KUALA LUMPUR: Fund buying of oil and gas heavyweight SapuraKencana Petro (SKPetro) and IHH Healthcare propped up the FBM KLCI while oil and gas counters saw active trade on firmer crude oil prices.
At 5pm, the KLCI was up 0.52 of a point or 0.03% to 1,840.13, off the intra day high of 1,846 and intra-day low of 1,836.
Turnover surged to 2.70 billion shares valued at RM2.51bil. The broader market reflected the more upbeat investor sentiment despite the weaker ringgit, with advancers beating decliners 518 to 307 while 353 counters were unchanged.
Reuters reported the ringgit led losses among emerging Asian currencies on Wednesday amid sustained concerns over a slowing Chinese economy with growth in the world's second-largest economy at a six-year low.
The ringgit fell to its weakest level against the US dollar in more than two weeks. The ringgit weakened to the US dollar at 3.7070 versus 3.7005 the previous day.
Meanwhile, market sentiment for equities was shored by the firmer US crude oil, which rose 73 cents to US$54.02 and Brent added 78 cents to US$59.21.
The firmer crude oil prices spilled over to oil and gas stocks on Bursa, especially Bumi Armada
after it secured a US$300mil (RM1.1bil) charter contract for a new floating storage unit. It rose 14 sen to RM1.20.
SK Petro jumped 16 sen to RM2.56 and added 2.089 points to the KLCI. Perisai added four sen to 57.5 sen, KNM 4.5 sen to 68 sen and Sumatec
0.5 sen to 22.5 sen.
Petronas Chemicals added three sen to RM5.73 but Petronas Dagangan and Petronas Gas shed two sen each to RM20.88 and RM22.94.
Crude oil prices for third month delivery rose RM18 to RM2,166.
TAHPS was the top gainers, adding 35 sen to RM6.90, PPB Group 20 sen to RM16 and FGV edged up one sen to RM2.10 but IOI Corp lost three sen to RM4.56 and KL Kepong 20 sen to RM22.50.
On the top gainers list was Only World Group, surging 22 sen to RM2.22. IFCA MSC jumped 21 sen to RM1.61 and its warrants 18 sen to RM1.46.
IHH added 10 sen to RM5.72 and nudged the KLCI up 1.43 points.
Banks and finance stocks were mixed, with HLFG down 22 sen to RM16.90, HL Bank lost 12 sen to RM14.20, RHB Cap seven sen to RM7.89 and Maybank four sen to RM9.34 but CIMB gained five sen to RM6.24 and Pubic Bank four sen to RM19.02.
Among the key regional markets, Hong Kong stocks held firm despite China's weak economic growth data, amid signs that Chinese mutual fund managers were raising billions of dollars as they sought bargains in the city.
The Hang Seng index ended up 0.2% to 27,618.82, while the China Enterprises Index gained 1.5%, to 14,471.82.
The Chinese stock market posted its biggest one-day drop in more than a month on Wednesday. A slew of weak economic data this week has also soured investor sentiment. China reported economic growth slowed to a six-year low, Reuters reported.
The CSI300 index of the largest listed companies in Shanghai and Shenzhen fell 1.3%, to 4,380.5, while the Shanghai Composite Index dropped 1.2%, to 4,084.16.