Market ekes out small gains early Friday, Trump’s tariffs weigh

KUALA LUMPUR: Bursa Malaysia chalked up some gains early Friday but the overall market was cautious, in line with the key Asian bourses, as they brace for the fallout from US President Donald Trump’s imposition of higher tariffs for steel and aluminum.

At 9.20am, the KLCI was up 4.27 points or 0.23% to 1,843.89. Turnover was 303.03 million shares valued at RM99mil. There were 256 gainers, 118 losers and 219 counters unchanged.

China's steel and metals associations called on Friday for the government to retaliate against the United States for slapping 25% tariffs on steel imports and 10% for aluminum imports. This was the strongest response yet from the sector in an escalating trade dispute, Reuters reported.

Companies in the world's top producer of both metals "strongly oppose" the duties, the China Iron & Steel Association (CISA) and China China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association said in separate statements on Friday.

According to Reuters, International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde feared a "tit-for-tat" escalation of trade retaliation that would sap business confidence and investment.

Kenanga Research said the KLCI was hovering just below its immediate resistance level of 1840 (R1) but failed to breach the aforesaid level amid a lack of impetus in the market on Thursday. 

“With key momentum indicators still in the negative territory, the technical outlook of KLCI remains biased to the downside in the immediate term.

“The 1840 (R1) represents a crucial resistance level, where a decisive break-through could see the index on higher note towards 1883 (R2).  Meanwhile immediate support levels are 1798 (S1) and 1771 (S2) further down,” it said.

Nestle was the top gainer, climbing to fresh record high of RM142.20, up RM2.20. BAT added 30 sen to RM27.76 while Carlsberg gained 14 sen to RM20.12. Howevr, Dutch Lady fell 20 sen to RM67.50.

Nova Pharma Solutions, which made its debut on the LEAP Market of Bursa Malaysia, was up four sen to 24 sen.

KESM gained 30 sen to RM19.80. CIMB Equities Research expects robust FY17-20F net profit compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20% for burn-in tester KESM, driven by strong automotive semiconductor IC testing demand.

HL Industries rose 24 sen to RM11.22, Hartalega gained 14 sen to RM10.90. LC Titan added 14 sen to RM5.93 and Petron 13 sen to RM9.58 while Sapura Energy shed 0.5 sen to 50.5 sen.

QES, which was listed on the ACE Market on Thursday, slipped 0.5 sen to 21.5 sen. Its offer price was 19 sen.