Bursa closes higher after Q4 2018 GDP exceeds forecast

KUALA LUMPUR: Bursa Malaysia closed higher on Thursday after the economy in the fourth quarter grew above expectations and Bank Negara expects steady growth for this year.

At 5pm, the FBM KLCI was up 3.76 points or 0.22%to 1,689.06. Turnover rose to 3.89 billion shares valued at RM2.28bil. There were 463 gainers, 359 losers and 381 counters unchanged.

Earlier, Bank Negara Governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus said Malaysia's macroeconomic fundamentals continue to remain strong despite domestic and external headwinds.

"In 2019, the Malaysian economy is likely to remain on a steady growth path, supported by resilience of private consumption and continuation of civil engineering projects apart from recovery from supply side shocks," she said.

Market sentiment was also boosted by US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's comments that he was looking forward to trade talks with China on Thursday, as discussions in Beijing moved to a higher level in a push to de-escalate a tariff war ahead of a March 1 deadline for a deal.

“The talks, scheduled to run through Friday, follow three days of deputy-level meetings to work out technical details, including a mechanism for enforcing any trade agreement,” Reuters reported.

However, Japan's Nikkei 225 shed 0.02%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index lost0.23%, China's Shanghai Composite Index eased 0.05% wgile South Korea's Kospi added 1.11% while Singapore's STI ended 0.26% higher.

At Bursa, consumer stocks were among the top gainers, Carlsberg jumped 82 sen to RM21.58 with 413,200 shares done. After market close, it declared and proposed a total dividend payment amounting to RM1 per share following a record performance for the year ended Dec 31, 2018.

Nestle rose 80 sen to RM148.90 while F&N added 52 sen to RM33.80, Heineken gained 28 sen to RM21.28 and Dutch Lady 18 sen to RM62.46.

IHH Healthcare rose 20 sen to RM5.77 and pushed the KLCI up 3.07 points, Genting rose eight sen to RM7.14 and Genting Malaysia four sen to RM3.33. Sime Darby added two sen to RM2.18.

Axiata rose six sen to RM3.95 on better prospects, up six sen to RM3.95 and nudged the KLCI up 0.95 point, Maxis, which is due to announce its FY18 results on Fdriday, rose four sen to RM5.70 while Digi gained two sen to RM4.58.
Tenaga fell four sen to RM13.01 and erase d0.39 of a point from the KLCI.

US light crude oil rose 61 cents to US$54.51 while Brent jumpe US$1.08 to US$64.69.

Among the oil and gas stocks, Petronas Dagangan added 12 sen to RM26.24, Dialog eked out a gain of one sen to RM2.99, Petronas Gas shed two sen to MRM18.10 and Petronas Chemical one sen lower at RM8.47.

Sapura Energy added three sen to 30.5 sen and it was the most active with 612.4 million shares done and Bumi Armada two sen 24.5 sen.

As for banks, Public Bank lost two sen to RM24.94, AmBank one sen to RM4.45, CIMB, RHB Bank and Maybank were flat at RM5.78, RM5.58 and RM9.55 respectively.
Crude palm oil for third month selivery rose RM31 to RM2,281 per tonne.

PPB Group added six sen to RM18.16, IOI Corp was flat at RM4.54, KL Kepong shed two sen to RM124.70 and Sime Plantations also eased two sen to RM5.12.

The ringgit fell 0.18% against the US dollar to 4.0750 but gained strength against the pound sterling, up 0.46% to 5.2245, gained 0.48% to the euro to 4.5868 and inched up 0.17% to 2.9966 against the Singapore dollar.