Small cap stocks lift Bursa, KLCI barely higher

KUALA LUMPUR: Small capitalised stocks were among the top gainers on Thursday while the FBM KLCI eked out slight gains in last minute trade again as the market seemed to have ignored the hopes of a US interest rate cut which had driven the key Asian markets higher.

At 5pm, the KLCI was up 0.29 of a point or 0.02% to 1,679.26 in very late trade after spending most of the day in the red. Turnover was 3.18 billion shares valued at RM2.21bil. Advancers led decliners 501 to 329 while 421 counters unchanged.

Among the small cap gainers were Manulife, Excel Force, Fronken and Elsoft. The KLCI's slight gain was underpinned by Maxis, Dialog and MISC.

On the external front, the Hong Kong stock market ended higher, tracking gains in broader Asia, after US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell set the stage for an anticipated interest rate cut later this month, Reuters reported.

The Hang Seng Index rose 0.81% and China's Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.08% while Japan's Nikkei 225 advanced 0.51%. Singapore's STI was up 0.37%.

There was some respite for Malaysia in the ringgit, which rose 0.55% against the US dollar to 4.1143 – the highest since April 15 after Powell signalled plans to cut interest rates.

The local unit rose 0.1% to the pound sterling to 5.1602 – the highest since November 2016. It rose 0.09% to the euro at 4.6417 and gained 0.11% to the Singapore unit at 3.0377.

Manulife rose 32 sen to RM2.85, Excel Force surged 24.5 sen to 67 sen, Frontken and Magni-Tech 14 sen higher at RM1.54 and RM5.19, while Elsoft added 11.5 sen to 92.5 sen.

Consumer stocks were mixed. BAT was the top gainer of the day, up 48 sen to RM29.58 and Dutch Lady 46 sen to RM64 while Carlsberg and F&N lost 10 sen each to RM24.62 and RM34.50.

Maxis rose 10 sen to RM5.75 and added 1.36 points to the KLCI, Digi and Axiata were flat at RM5.05 and RM5.18.

Dialog closed nine sen higher at RM3.47 as investors were positive on its outlook. This was the best performance since October 2018. 

However, Petronas-linked stocks fell. Leading the way was Petronas Dagangan, which lost 14 sen to RM24.86, Petronas Gas two sen to RM17.30 and Petronas Chemical one sen lower at RM8.40.

KNM was the most active, up four sen to 35 sen with over 294 million shares done while its warrants jumped 5.5 sen to 17 sen. Bumi Armada was up two sen to 23.5 sen.

US light crude oil rose 41 cents to US$60.84 and Brent climbed 54 cents to US$67.55.

Among the banks, Public Bank's 12 sen fall to RM23 erased 0.81 of a point, HL Bank was two sen lower at RM18.98, AmBank was flat at RM4.31 while Maybank and CIMB eked out one sen each to RM8.95 and RM5.34. RHB Bank was up  four sen to RM5.75.

Among the bigger caps, Sime Darby fell three sen to RM2.31, Tenaga two sen to RM13.72, GentingM one sen lower at RM3.29. MAHB was flat at RM8.80 while Genting added four sen to RM6.64 and MISC five sen higher at RM7.28.

Crude palm oil for third month delivery rose RM8 to RM1,945 per tonne.

KL Kepong fell 22 sen to RM24.34, Sime Plantation lost two sen to RM4.86, IOI Corp was flat at RM4.27 and PPB Group bucked the trend to climb six sen to RM18.78.
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