KUALA LUMPUR: Strong fund buying of banks powered the FBM KLCI past the key 1,700 level at the close on Thursday, with Maybank, CIMB and Public Bank taking the lead, as key Asian markets recorded strong gains.
Construction stocks incuding George Kent and MRCB rallied as the LRT 3 got the go-ahead but at nearly 50% below the original cost.
At 5pm, the KLCI was up 14.8 points or 0.88% to 1,703.57 – which was the highest since June 21. Turnover was 2.69 billion shares valued at RM2.51bil. There were 598 gainers, 294 losers and 364 counters unchanged.
Stocks and commodity markets regained some poise , having suffered wild tailspins in the previous session as the US ratcheted up trade war threats on China.
A 2% rebound on China's big bourses steadied Asian nerves as oil markets clawed back some of Wednesday's 7% slump that had marked their worst day in 2-1/2 years, according to Reuters.
At Bursa, local institutions were net buyers at RM73.3mil while retailers took profit and were net sellers at RM21.3mil. Foreign funds continued to reduce their stakes, this time net selling was at RM52mil.
Maybank rose 36 sen to RM9.50 and pushed the KLCI up 7.01 points, CIMB added 25 sen to RM5.63 and nudged the KLCI up 4.17 points, Public Bank's 20 sen gain to RM23 gave the KLCI a 1.38 point push while RHB Bank advanced six sen to RM5.30 and Hong Leong Bank four sen to RM18.46.
As for construction-related stocks, George Kent hit limit-up, surging 30 sen to RM1.29. Its previous price was 99 sen and the daily maximum limit was 30 sen.
MRCB was the most active stock with 199 million shares done, surging16 sen to 74 sen.
Both companies are the joint venture partners in the 37-km long LRT 3 project though the final cost has been reduced by 47% to RM16.63bil.
Other companies which are also involved in rail-related infrastructure contracts also advanced. Gamuda rallied 23 sen to RM3.38 while IJM gained 10 sen to RM1.81, WCT was up 4.5 sen to 83 sen and YTL five sen to RM1.20.
US light crude oil gained 62 cents to US$71 and Brent jumped US$1.47 to US$74.87. Petronas Gas rose 14 sen to RM17.90, Petronas Dagangan added 20 sen to RM25 but Petronas Chemical fell one sen to RM8.53.
Crude palm oil for third month delivery fell RM7 to RM2,197 per tonne. KL Kepong gained 16 sen to to RM24.24, PPB Group rose four sen to RM19.76 and IOI Corp two sen to RM4.50.
Sime Plantation fell nine sen to RM5.29 and erased 1.09 points from the KLCI, Sime Darby shed two sen to RM2.37 while Sime Property added three sen to RM1.23.
IHH Healthcare was up seven sen to RM5.97, MISC three sen to RM6.10 but Press Metal lost four sen to RM4, Genting Malaysia three sen to RM4.88 and Genting eight sen to RM8.52.
As for telcos, Axiata rose four sen to RM4.06, Telekom six sen higher at RM3.46 but Digi shed one sen to RM4.18 and Maxis three sen to RM5.37.
Glove makers climbed with Hartalega up 33 sen to RM6.10 and Kossan 30 sen higher at RM8.30 and Top Glove inched up one sen to RM9.90.
The ringgit weakened against the US dollar and the Singapore unit. It fell 0.11% against the greenback to 4.0415 and shed 0.09% to the Singapore unit at 2.9661. However, it gained 0.11% to the pound sterling at 5.3389 and edged up 0.07% to the euro at 4.7164.