KLCI tracks Asian market gains on low US rate prospect

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KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 9): The FBM KLCI rose 0.3%, tracking Asian market gains on expectation that the US Federal Reserve will keep interest rates low amid weaker world economic prospects. Still-low US rates will essentially prompt capital flows into emerging Asian market assets for better returns.

Malaysia's KLCI rose 5.57 points to settle at 1,829.89 at 12.30pm on gains in stocks like Sime Darby Bhd and Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd.

Despite the KLCI's rise, technical analysts said the index was still seen trading on a downward bias.

Affin Hwang Investment Bank Bhd Retail Research Vice President Norhashmilaidi Hashim wrote in a note today that from a medium-term viewpoint, the KLCI would have to close and trade above 1,860 points to reverse the trend.

"Downward momentum remains," Norhashmilaidi said.

Across Bursa Malaysia, some 884 million shares worth RM824 million changed hands. There were 550 gainers versus 165 decliners.

The top gainer was British American Tobacco (M) Bhd  while the leading decliner was Nestle (M) Bhd.

The most-active stock was Sumatec Resources Bhd.

Across Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.9% while Japan’s Nikkei 225 erased earlier gains to fall 0.3%. South Korea’s Kospi is closed for a holiday today.

Reuters reported that Asian shares bounced back and the dollar fell on Thursday after minutes of the US Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting showed policymakers have some concerns about downside risks to the global economy and the dollar's strength.

The minutes of the Fed's Sept 16-17 meeting showed officials are struggling with how to come to grips with the dual threats of a stronger dollar and a global slowdown as they seek an eventual exit from low interest rates.

Elsewhere, US crude oil prices hit a 1 1/2-year low of $86.83 per barrel while Brent oil, European benchmark, hit a two-year low of $91.00.