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Thursday April 6, 2006

Asian stocks soar

KUALA LUMPUR: The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index (KLCI) rose to its highest level in nearly eight months with trading volume hitting a new record at over two billion shares, as optimism over further gains by Asian currencies and an improved economic outlook in the region lifted most stock markets on the continent. 

Asian markets, which climbed to 16-year highs, were aided by continued gains in their currencies that were led by the Chinese yuan, which hit a new post-revaluation high. 

The Thai stock market and baht were the spectacular performers in Asia, as the Bangkok SET Index jumped more than 3% after the three-month political stalemate ended with Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra pledging to step down. The baht rose to its highest level since the middle of March last year. 

Trading on Bursa Malaysia, which was one of three major markets in Asia to post gains in excess of 1% yesterday, was frantic as punters gobbled up penny stocks at a feverish pace. One such counter, Karambunai Corp Bhd, was the most actively traded stock, with 274 million shares changing hands.  

Some brokers said foreign players were buying blue-chip counters to primarily take advantage of the ringgit, which hit a new eight-year high at RM3.67 to the US dollar, and possible improvement of the fundamentals of the country’s biggest companies. 

“There is greater interest in blue- chip stocks given the ringgit’s strength, and with the projects and programmes of the Ninth Malaysia Plan expected to filter down strongly throughout the economy, there is ample room for earnings improvement by corporate Malaysia,” said one broker. 

The KLCI closed 10.5 points higher at 941.67, largely due to gains in major blue chip counters. 

As a result of that and speculative interest in penny stocks, the volume of shares traded on Bursa Malaysia hit 2.01 billion, surpassing the last record of 1.6 billion on July 12, 1999.  

The value of shares traded totalled RM1.54bil, the highest since Feb 3.  

The stock with the biggest value traded, at RM111.1mil, was Malayan Banking Bhd. 

The Jakarta Composite Index climbed 1.37%. 

Apart from the markets in Japan, which saw a decline in the major indices, all the other big Asian markets closed higher.  


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