KUALA LUMPUR: Gains in banking stocks Public Bank and CIMB helped Malaysia blue chips close higher on Wednesday, the first trading day after the Chinese New Year holidays.
At the close, the FBM KLCI was up 7.36 points or 0.45% to 1,631.16. Turnover was relatively thin with 58.96 million shares valued at RM1.10bil. There were 376 gainers, 209 losers and 247 counters unchanged.
Among the key regional markets, Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 1.04% as the yen advanced, triggering profit taking on exporters. However, South Korea's Kospi gained 1.56% to 1,976.07 and Singapore's Straits Times Index added 0.93% to 3,300.87.
At Bursa Malaysia, Public Bank rose 12 sen to RM15.98, the highest since Jan 21 and gave the KLCI the 1.30 points while CIMB gained six sen to RM7.24, nudging the index up 1.03 points.
HDBS added 19 sen to RM3.98 on a news report about the sale of HwangDBS Investment Bank.
Petronas Chemicals gained 11 sen to RM6.11, Genting Bhd six sen to RM9.73 and Axiata four sen to RM6.30.
Among the consumer stocks, Carlsberg rose 42 sen to RM12.48, BAT 40 sen to RM58.40 and Nestle 20 sen to RM59.76 but F&N fell eight sen to RM17.92.
Crude palm oil futures for third-month delivery fell RM48 to RM2,512. Howeverm KL Kepong rose 38 sen to RM21.68 and IOI Corp five sen to RM4.90 while FGV gained two sen to RM4.52.
SP Setia ended the day 23 sen higher to RM3.49 as investors were positive on its placement of 320.7 million new shares to raise RM942.90mil.
MRCB added three sen to RM1.29. UOB Kay Hian Malaysia Research said although the acquisition of Gapurna was pricey and could be earnings per share dilutive in the short term, MRCB would benefit in the longer term.
Tasek-PA was the top loser, down 18 sen to RM13.82, Top Glove eight sen to RM5.42 and OCB 7.5 sen to 52.5 sen while MPHB lost seven sen to RM3.24.
US light crude oil rose 12 sen to US$97.63 while Brfent added 11 cents to US$118.77. Spot gold fell RM4.22 to US$1,647.10.