KLCI stays above 1,700 as upbeat mood persists

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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 15): The FBM KLCI appears to have stabilised above the 1,700-point level, after maintaining largely in the positive zone throughout trading hours today.

By market close, the benchmark index settled 0.89 points or 0.05% higher at 1,709.79 points, after having ranged between 1,707.24 points and 1,713.47 points earlier.

Areca Capital Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Danny Wong Teck Meng said the Malaysian equities market is "taking a break" to digest various current issues after rallying almost 80 points year to date.

"But overall, the upbeat market expectation persists, [so] unless there is really a trade war or other big negative events [happening], the local market is expected to be better off this year," he told theedgemarkets.com when contacted.

"Yes, fundamentally, the market will be good this year, because commodities prices are strong, which would result in higher export figure as compared to the same period last year," he added.

Regional key market indices also closed higher today. Japan's Nikkei grew by 1.03%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index climbed 1.23%, and the South Korean Kospi gained 0.45%.

Reuters reported that Asian stocks scaled 19-month peaks on Wednesday, helped by a record-setting night on Wall Street after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen flagged a possible interest rate rise next month, keeping the US dollar near three-week highs.

It also noted that Yellen said on Tuesday that delaying rate increases could leave the central bank's policymaking committee behind the curve.

At the domestic stock exchange, Bursa Securities saw 2.3 billion shares, worth some RM2.56 billion, exchanged.

There were 418 gainers versus 469 losers, while 371 stocks traded unchanged.

Top gainers were led by British American Tobacco (M) Bhd, while the biggest loser was United Plantations Bhd. The most actively traded counter was Metronic Global Bhd, which saw 162.02 million shares crossed.

The ringgit strengthened to 4.4490 against the US dollar at the time of writing, and to 3.1274 against the Singapore dollar.