Late buying of Public Bank pushes KLCI to higher close

KUALA LUMPUR: Blue chips closed higher on Wednesday on late firm buying of Public Bank amid the cautious broader market and weaker key Asian bourses as the rising US trade war with China escalated.

At 5pm, the FBM KLCI was up 1.64 points or 0.1% to 1,688.77. Turnover was 2.08 billion shares valued at RM2.03bil. Decliners beat advancers more than two to one or 556 losers to 261 gainers and 390 counters unchanged.

On the external front, China's stocks slumped after three days of gains and the yuan weakened as the United States threatened more import duties on Chinese goods, sharply escalating the trade conflict between the world's two biggest economies, Reuters reported.

Shanghai's Composite Index fell 1.76%, the Hang Seng Index lost 1.29% and the Nikkei 225 fell 1.19% while Singapore's STI weakened 0.79%.

Earlier, Bank Negara Malaysia’s Monetary Policy Committee kept the overnight policy rate (OPR) unchanged at 3.25% during its meeting. 

It said the economy was expected to remain on a “steady growth path” after continuing to expand in the first half of the year. However, analysts noted the more cautious stance after the May statement when the MPC noted that “the prospects for the Malaysian economy remain strong”.

Public Bank rose 26 sen to RM22.80 and pushed the KLCI up 1.79 points, Hong Leong Bank advanced 14 sen to RM18.42, CIMB three sen higher at RM5.38 while Maybankwas flat at RM9.14 while RHB Bank fell nine sen to RM5.24.

Tenaga rose eight sen to RM14.50 and pushed the KLCI up 0.8 points, Genting Bhd 10 sen higher at RM8.60, MISC edged up one sen to RM6.07 while Genting Malaysia fell one sen to RM4.91.

Crude palm oil for third month delivery fell RM53 to RM2,206 per tonne, the lowest in two years as exports fell and stockpiles rose.

IOI Corp fell seven sen to RM4.48, PPB Group was flat at RM19.72 while KL Kepong added six sen to RM14.24. Batu Kawan rose 20 sen to RM17.90 and United Plantations added 10 sen to RM26.90.

Sime Plantation rose three sen to RM5.38, Sime Property inched up one sen to RM1.20 but Sime Darby shed one sen to RM2.39.

Among telcos, Axiata lost 15 sen to RM4.02 and erased 2.41 points from the KLCI, Digi lost four sen to RM4.19, Telekom was five sen lower at RM3.40 while Maxis was unchanged at RM5.40.

As for the consumer stocks, BAT fell the most, down 96 sen to RM33.40 and Nestle was 20 sen lower at RM147.90.

US light crude oil fell 74 cents to US$73.37 and Brent skidded US$1.97 to US$76.89. Petronas Gas rose 10 sen to RM17.76, Petronas Chemical was flat at RM8.54 and Petronas Dagangan lost 14 sen to RM24.80.

The ringgit weakened against the key currencies in volatile trade. It lost 0.37% to the US dollar at 4.0370, lost 0.27% against the pound sterling at 5.3447 while it shed 0.06% to the euro at 4.7197. However, it rose 0.09% versus the Singapore dollar to 2.9636.

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