Bursa cautious but key Asian markets rally on trade deal hopes

KUALA LUMPUR: Bursa Malaysia ended Wednesday lower,  dragged down by IOI Corp and Axiata, while most key Asian markets chalked up solid gains on US President Donald Trump's suggestion of a fresh deadline for US-China trade deal.

At 5pm, the FBM KLCI was down 2.11 points or 0.13% to 1,685.30. Turnover was 2.63 billion shares valued at RM1.87bil. There were 468 gainers, 340 losers and 393 counters unchanged.

On the external front, Chinese shares jumped after Trump's suggested the deadline for Beijing and Washington to strike a trade deal could be pushed back, Reuters reported.

The Shanghai Composite index closed 1.8% higher at 2,721.07, a level not seen since Oct. 10, 2018. The blue-chip CSI300 index rallied 2% to its highest point since late September.

Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 1.34%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index added 1.16%, South Korea's Kospi 0.5% and Singapore's STI 1.3% up. The Jakarta Composite fell 0.11% after Credit Suisse Group AG downgraded Indonesia’s equities market to a sell rating.

At Bursa, the KLCI stayed most of the day in the red as institutional players were unable to provide strong firm leads ahead of the release of the fourth quarter economic data on Thursday.

Crude palm oil for third month delivery rose RM7 to RM2,261 per tonne. IOI Corp fell eight sen to RM4.54 and erased 0.88 of a point, PPB Group also lost eight sen to RM18.10 but KLK added two sen to RM24.72 and Sime Plantation one sen to RM5.14.

Among the telcos, Axiata lost ground, slipping five sen to RM3.89 and wiping out 0.8 of a point, Maxis shed four sen to RM5.66 and Digi two sen to RM4.56.

Sime Darby and Tenaga lost four sen each to RM2.16 and RM13.06, Genting Bhd two sen to RM7.06 and GentingM one sen to RM5.44 but IHH climbed 10 sen to RM5.57 and added 1.5 points to the KLCI.

US light crude oil rebounded 36 cents to US$53.46 and Brent 55 cents to US$62.97. Petronas Chemical rose seven sen to RM4.10 and added nearly one point, Petronas Gas rose four sen to RM18.12 while Petronas Dagangan and Dialog were unchanged at RM26.12 and RM2.98.

Consumer stocks headed the losers' list, with F&N down RM1.34 to RM33.28, BAT 82 sen to RM36.32, Nestle 60 sen to RM148.10 and Carlsberg 18 sen lower at RM20.76. Heineken rose 18 sen to RM21.

E&O rose 3.5 sen 88.5 sen in active trade after the previous day's selldown over its cash call.

As for tech-related stocks, Pentamaster fell nine sen to RM3.17 but MPI advanced 14 sen to RM10.16 and Vitrox 10 sen higher at RM6.66.

Bumi Armada was the most active with 171.12 million shares done, unchanged at 22.5 sen. 

The ringgit firmed up against the US dollar by 0.23% to 4.0675 and year-to-date, it is up 1.62%.

However, the ringgit slipped 0.18% to the pound sterling to 5.2484 and lost 0.3% against the euro to 4.6087 and was trailing 0.04% to the Singapore dollar  at 3.0018.