PETALING JAYA: The local benchmark stock index yesterday closed above 1,300 points for the first time since May 2008, shored up by high expectations that Public Bank Bhd’s final-quarter earnings would be good.
The country’s third biggest bank by market value is scheduled to release today its results for the year ended Dec 31, 2009.
Shares in Public Bank added 20 sen, or 1.7%, yesterday to a new high of RM12.04, as the stock extended its unbeaten run to a fourth day in a row.
The bank’s share price advance helped the FTSE Bursa Malaysia KL Composite Index (FBM KLCI) close up 2.36 points, or 0.18%, at 1,300.35 points yesterday.
The FBM KLCI first breached the 1,300-point level last Friday, a week after it reached 1,299 points on Jan 7. Dealers said the index had stayed within a narrow 15-point range for at least the past 10 trading days.
“Risk appetite is still there but the market appears a bit weary,’’ MIDF Research head Zulkifli Hamzah said.
He noted that the overall market volume was healthy with 1.27 billion shares worth RM1.45bil transacted yesterday, as lower liners continued to garner strong trading interest.
Shares on Bursa Malaysia had a strong start to 2010, with the FBM KLCI rising 2.17% year-to-date. The measure for small-cap stocks surged 10% to outperform the 30-strong benchmark index by a wide margin.
In the currency market, the ringgit was last traded at 3.339 against the US dollar.
The local unit had strengthened 2.6% against the greenback since the start of the year. The last time it was traded below 3.33 against the dollar was in third quarter of 2008.
An analyst at a foreign brokerage said yesterday that the prospect of a stronger ringgit this year would continue to keep local stock prices buoyant.
Meanwhile, the main bourses around the region were mixed yesterday. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index led risers yesterday with a 1% gain, followed by Jakarta Composite Index’s 0.9% advance. Stocks, however, fell by at least 1% in Taiwan, Thailand and Australia.
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