Malaysian stocks start week on positive note

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KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 20): Malaysian stocks started the week on a positive note, as selected heavyweight counters like Petronas Chemicals Group Bhd, Axiata Group Bhd and DiGi.Com Bhd lifted the benchmark FBM KLCI up 4.11 points or 0.23% despite negative market breadth.

The KLCI traded within a range of 1,782.74 points to 1,791.14 points before finishing at 1,787.58 points.

Hong Leong Investment Bank Bhd head of retail research Loui Low told that all eyes are focused on Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's official visit to China, to see whether there are any big catalysts to move the market.

Low is optimistic about trade opportunities between the two countries that could also serve as a trading opportunity.

"Yes, it (trading opportunity) will help to lift the KLCI. For example, if Alibaba wants to invest in certain counters or even any news on the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) or any Chinese investors coming in that will actually boost some optimism in terms of the trading picks," he said.

Trading volume increased to 2.29 billion shares worth RM2.05 billion compared with 2 billion shares worth RM1.9 billion on Friday. Losers led gainers by 474 versus 343, while 474 traded unchanged.

The top gainers were Carlsberg Brewery Malaysia Bhd, Petronas Chemical and Bintulu Port Holdings Bhd. The biggest decliners included United Plantations Bhd, Batu Kawan Bhd and Star Media Group Bhd.

"Although the KLCI ended the day up, market breadth was actually negative. Overall, on the broader market, the small- and medium-cap counters were actually undergoing profit-taking activities," said Low.

Regionally, Japan's Nikkei 225 dropped 0.32%, South Korea's Kospi increased 0.04% while Hong Kong's Hang Seng finished up 1.41%.

Reuters reported that trading was thin as investors awaited developments from trade talks expected between the US and China this week. The talks in Washington are due to take place on Aug 21 and 22, just before new US tariffs on US$16 billion of Chinese goods take effect.