KUALA LUMPUR: Hong Leong Bank and Public Bank underpinned the FBM KLCI's advance at midday on Wednesday amid firmer key Asian markets while the ringgit climbed against the US dollar and pound sterling.
At 12.30pm, the KLCI was up 4.78 points or 0.3% to 1,581.73. Turnover was 1.39 billion shares valued at RM871mil. There were 335 gainers, 379 losers and 338 counters unchanged.
Asian stocks camped out at 18-month peaks having climbed for five straight sessions, while the British pound was licking fresh wounds as revived Brexit fears came back to haunt it, Reuters reported.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was dead flat near its highest since June last year. Japan's Nikkei dipped 0.4% and off a 2019 top.
Shanghai blue chips were steady, after hitting an eight-month peak on Tuesday and as Beijing trimmed another short-term interest rate, the wire reported.
At Bursa, Hong Leong Bank rose 30 sen to RM17.40 and Public Bank added 16 sen to RM19.16 while Public Bank's major shareholder LPI gained 14 sen to RM14.80.
AmBank shed one sen to RM3.84 but CIMB was two sen higher at RM5.24, RHB Bank four sen to RM5.69.
Consumer stocks were mixed. F&N advanced 54 sen to RM33.88, Heineken 40 sen to RM26.90, Nestle 20 sen to RM144.20.
However, Dutch Lady lost RM1.86 to RM45.84, Ajinomoto 42 sen to RM14.60, BAT 24 sen to RM15.12 and Apollo 10 sen to RM3.70.
Crude palm oil for third month delivery fell RM19 to RM2,859 as the RM3,000 psychological level proved to be a difficult hurdle.
However, PBB Group rose 28 sen to RM18.62, Genting Plantations 16 sen to RM10.86, KL Kepong 14 sen to RM24.74, Sime Plantation two sen to RM5.37 and IOI Corp one sen to RM4.63.
EcoWorld rose 4.5 sen to 79 sen with 21.7 million shares done as investors were upbeat about its outlook.
US light crude oil fell 43 cents to US$60.51 and Brent fell 32 cents to US$65.78. Dialog lost one sen to RM3.41, Petronas Dagangan was flat at RM23, Petronas Gas fell 40 sen RM16.60 while Petronas Chemicals added two sen to RM7.26.
Tenaga fell 10 sen to RM13.12, GentingM lost one sen to RM3.22 but Genting added seven sen to RM6.01.
As for glove makers, Top Glove rose 13 sen to RM4.79 following its strong earnings while Hartalega was 11 sen higher at RM5.54.
The ringgit edged up 0.01% to 4.1420 against the US dollar and jumped 0.75% against the pound sterling to 5.4266.