KUALA LUMPUR: Blue chips closed sharply higher in late trade on Tuesday as local funds picked up Hong Leong Bank, Tenaga Nasional and Axiata, in line with most of the key Asian markets except Japan's Nikkei 225.
At 5pm, the FBM KLCI was up 14.36 points or 0.88% to 1,652.76. Turnover was 2.03 billion shares valued at RM1.71bil. Decliners led gainers 428 to 357 while 386 counters were unchanged.
European shares rallied and the euro took a sharp hit in a knee-jerk reaction to European Central Bank President Mario Draghi's comments indicating a possibility of new rate cuts or asset purchases, Reuters reported.
Around the region, MSCI's Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.56%, while Japan's Nikkei index closed down 0.72%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index climbed 1%, China's Shanghai Composite Index added 0.09%, Taowan's Taiex 0.34% and Singapore's Straits Times Index up 0.96%.
At Bursa, Mestron, which made its debut on the ACE Market, ended its first day just 0.5 sen higher at 16.5 sen, off the early high of 21 sen. It was the most active with 367 million shares done.
Hong Leong was the top gainer, up 56 sen to RM19.26 – the highest since June 11 – and powered the KLCI up 2.11 points. Public Bank rose two sen to RM23.04, RHB Bank one sen to RM5.60, AmBank was flat at RM4.35, CIMB shed two sen to RM5.23 and Maybank three sen lower at RM8.93.
Tenaga rose 26 sen to RM13after shaking off last week's selling pressure. It boosted the KLCI by 2.57 points. LNG shipper MISC added 23 sen to RM7.20.
As for telcos, Axiata gained 24 sen to RM4.95 and was the biggest mover in the KLCI, adding 3.81 points, Digi gained 14 sen to RM4.95 and Maxis one sen to RM5.48.
Crude oil prices fell with US light crude down 25 cents to US$51.68 and Brent 43 cents lower at US$60.51.
Nevertheless, Petronas Dagangan and Petronas Gas added 18 sen each to RM25.48 and RM17.60 and Petronas Chemical two sen to RM8.34 while Dialog ended the day two sen higher a;so at RM3.26.
Greatec, which was also recently listed, rose nine sen to 99 sen and it was the second most active with 95.67 million sahares. HPMT was up one sen to 45 sen.
Top Glove's shares closed 13 sen lower at RM4.87, recovering from the intra-day low of RM4.67 after it reported a weaker set of earnings in the third quarter ended May 31, 2019. It erased 0.58 of a point from the KLCI.
Mestron, which made its debut on the ACE Market, closed up 0.5 sen to 16/5 sen. It hit a high of 21 sen earlier.
AirAsia fell seven sen to RM2.75 after it was downgraded by Citi to sell from neutral. The target price was lowered to RM1.48 from RM3.01, implying a 47% decrease. AIRASIA average TP was RM2.62.
Among the consumer stocks, F&N rose 38 sen to RM34.50. However, BAT was the top loser, down 76 sen to RM27.10 whch was the lowest since May last year. Nestle fell 30 sen to RM148.50.
Can-One fell 12 sen to RM3.74 as analysts expected the gesring level to come down after the sale of its creamer operations.
Crude palm oil for third month delivery rose RM7 to RM2,041 per tonne. Sime Plantation jumped 18 sen to RM4.82, PPB Group six sen to RM18.68, IOI Corp five sen to RM4.23, KL Kepong four sen to RM24.60.
The ringgit weakened against the US dollar, down 0.09% to 4.1814 and slipped 0.07% to the Singapore unit to 3.0492. However, it gained strength against the weakening pound sterling, up 0.32% to 5.2407 and added 0.07% to the euro at 4.6802 and was up 0.32% to the Australian dollar at 2.8612.