KUALA LUMPUR: The local benchmark index put on a modest gain of 1.16 points to 1,834.18 as Asian markets traded mixed ahead of the US Consumer Price Index report that could further stoke fears over the speed of interest rate hikes.
Meanwhile, Bank Negara released Malaysia's latest GDP results at noon, showing better-than-expected fourth quarter growth of 5.9%, which was slightly lower than growth in the previous quarter but much higher than the speed of expansion in the final quarter of 2016.
Trading volume on Bursa Malaysia remained subdued ahead of the stock market's noon closing tomorrow for the Chinese New Year holidays. Turnover was 763.74 million shares worth RM715.19mil. There were 386 advancers versus 329 decliners and 365 counters unchanged.
Petronas Gas was the leading mover among the KLCI blue chips, rising 20 sen to RM17.60.
Genting counters also rose, with Genting up four sen to RM8.90 and Genting Malaysia gaining five sen to RM5.31.
Most bank stocks put in a positive performance. Maybank added two sen to RM10.12, CIMB climbed three sen to RM8.01, Hong Leong Bank put on 10 sen to RM18.10, RHB rose two sen to RM5.17 and Ambank gained two sen to RM4.45. Public Bank dropped two sen to RM22.
Among telcos, Axiata retraced early losses by midday to trade unchanged at RM5.61. Maxis dipped two sen to RM6 while Digi added one sen to RM4.84.
Plantations counters were mixed with PPB adding eight sen to RM17.52, Sime Darby Plantation slipped two sen to RM5.56, and KL Kepong and IOI were unchanged.
On the wider market, top stocks on the move included Top Glove, rising 28 sen to RM9.53, Hartalega gaining 26 sen to RM11.60 and Southern Steel, adding 27 sen to RM2.27.
British American Tobacco
continued to face negative pressure following the release of its earnings results yesterday. Facing earnings downgrades on the back of lower-than-expected earnings and poor expectations of future earnings, the tobacco company fell RM2.30 to RM30.58.
United Plantation dropped 42 sen to RM28.08 while MPI slipped 18 sen to RM8.88.
Oil markets were stable on Wednesday, trading near closing prices from the previous session.
WTI crude slipped one cent to US$59.18 a barrel while Brent crude rose eight cents to US$62.80 a barrel.
In currencies, the ringgit continued to trend higher against the greenback, rising 0.35% to 3.9255. It also rose marginally against the pound sterling and Singapore dollar at 5.4569 and 2.9774 respectively.