KLCI snaps three-day losing streak on US rate cut hint

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KUALA LUMPUR (July 19): The FBM KLCI closed 9.26 points or 0.56% higher today on bargain hunting and after markets took New York Federal Reserve President John Williams' speech as a hint of a potential US rate cut at the upcoming July meeting.

Higher crude oil prices also supported share price gains across Bursa Malaysia. At 5pm today, the KLCI settled higher at 1,658.19 with Asian share markets.

The KLCI snapped a three-day losing streak on bargain hunting to close higher, helped by gains in index-linked stocks including Tenaga Nasional Bhd, Petronas Chemicals Group Bhd and CIMB Group Holdings Bhd.

Rakuten Trade Sdn Bhd deputy head of research Vincent Lau told theedgemarkets.com that the KLCI’s performance today was "mainly due to bargain hunting and expectations of a rate cut by the US Federal Reserve".

Across Bursa Malaysia, most-actively traded stocks included Scomi Group Bhd, with a volume of 132.21 million shares. Scomi Group closed up one sen or 11.11 % at 10 sen.

The Edge Financial Daily, quoting Scomi Group’s filing with Bursa Malaysia, reported today that Tan Sri Wan Azmi Wan Hamzah and Gelombang Global Sdn Bhd, a private vehicle of former Renong Bhd managing director Datuk Mohd Zakhir Siddiqy, have committed to investing RM42 million collectively in ailing Scomi Group.

It was reported that the fresh capital will be injected into Scomi Group by underwriting the proposed rights issue which is fixed at 18 sen per share.

Should the cash call be fully subscribed, the two investors will take part in the proposed restricted rights issue, The Edge Financial Daily reported.

Markets were on the rise around Asia on Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 closed up 2% while South Korea's Kospi finished 1.35% higher. Hong Kong's Hang Seng and the Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite ended up 1.07% and 0.79% respectively.

Asian stocks rose on Friday after Williams cemented expectations of a US interest rate cut later this month, fuelling appetite for riskier assets and keeping a cap on the dollar, Reuters reported. It was reported that Williams said on Thursday that policymakers could not wait for economic disaster to hit before adding stimulus, in a speech read as a strong argument in favour of quick monetary action.

The comments by Williams made it a virtual certainty the Fed would cut interest rates by 25 basis points (bps) at its July 30-31 policy meeting and also revived expectations of an even deeper 50 bps reduction, Reuters reported.

In oil markets, it was reported that oil prices rose on Friday as tensions brewed again in the Middle East after a US Navy ship destroyed an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz, a major chokepoint for global crude flows.

Brent crude futures were up 81 cents, or 1.3%, at US$62.74 a barrel by 0642 GMT, according to Reuters.