KLCI pares losses moving into midday

KUALA LUMPUR: The FBM KLCI pared losses as it entered midday as better-than-expected industrial output in April helped to mitigate profit-taking activities.

At 12.30pm, the FBM KLCI was down 1.44 points to 1,654.03. Trading volume was 1.26 billion shares valued at RM895.54mil. There were 347 gainers versus 342 decliners nad 359 counters unchanged.

The late-morning push came as the Department of Statistics announced that the country's industrial output index in April grew 4% from a year ago, exceeding Bloomberg's forecast of 2.5% growth.

While investors are keen to cash in some of the gains made on the local market since the final week of May, the local index's recovery looks supported by an easing of trade tensions in the external environment. 

As global equities rise on an averted trade conflict between the US and Mexico, investors are also speculating that the US Federal Reserve is poised to cut its policy rates as soon as next week.

Greater China markets were uniformly bullish with the Shanghai Composite Index up 1.9%, the CSI300 Index jumping 2.3% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index growing 0.8%.

Japan's Nikkei Index and South Korea's Kospi Index each added 0.3%.

On the home front, most actively traded counters included Ekovest up one sen to 86 sen, IWCity climbing seven sen to RM1.01 and Lambo adding 0.5 sen to six sen.

Heavyweights leading the FBM KLCI lower included Hong Leong Bank falling 24 sen to RM19.98, Tenaga Nasional sliiding eight sne to RM12.68 and Maybank dropping four sen to RM9.

Leading gains was MISC climbing 18 sen to RM7.18, Axiata adding four sen to RM4.70 and Petronas Gas rising eight sen to RM18.

Oil prices firmed up at expectations that Opec will continue to withhold supply amid a slowdown in global demand for the commodity. US crude rose 32 cents to US$53.58 a barrel and Brent crude gained 14 cents to US$62.43 a barrel.

In currencies, the ringgit was flat against the US dollar at 4.1650 as investors await more policy direction from the US Fed.

The local currency was also flat against the pound sterling at 5.2823 and slipped 0.2% against the Singapore dollar at 3.0512.
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