STRONG ongoing interest continued to push up prices of oil and gas related counters on the KLSE yesterday.
There was speculation about these companies securing new contracts from Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) following the discovery of a highly prospective oilfield in waters off east Malaysia.
Crest Petroleum Bhd outshone its peers, rising 76 sen or 17% to RM5.20 its highest level since July 1997. SAAG Corp Bhd surged 52 sen to a near 2½-year high of RM3.20, Scomi Bhd rose 18 sen to RM4.96 and Trenergy Bhd added 11 sen to RM2.75.
However, Petra Perdana, which hogged the limelight last week, encountered profit-taking and its share price dipped 12 sen to RM3.78 from a day's high of RM4.
Petronas president and chief executive officer Tan Sri Hassan Marican had described the discovery of the new deep-water oil reserve at the Kikeh prospect in Block K off Sabah and Sarawak as highly prospective.
It is reportedly the largest over the last 10 years, with recoverable reserves projected at 400 million to 700 million barrels of oil.
However, analysts expressed caution over the sustainability of hefty gains in oil and gas related stocks. So far, none of these companies have indicated any possibility of new contracts coming from the national oil firm.
On the broader market, the lack of buying of blue chips kept the KLSE Composite Index (CI) within a tight range yesterday. The benchmark index inched up 0.51 of a point to almost 692.
Volume remained heavy at 601.6 million shares, although slightly lower than last Friday's 639 million.
OSK Research assistant general manager Pankaj Kumar said the current improved sentiment was pinned on hopes that the global and domestic economies would improve in the second half of the year.
The rising optimism in the macro-economic picture had lured investors to pour money into equities, given the low interest rate environment, he added.
For the upcoming results season, he said, the market had mostly factored in the fact that earnings would not be rosy, given the backdrop of the Iraq war and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome outbreak.
Investors are looking beyond this year, as the stock market normally acts six months ahead of events,'' he said.
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