KLCI rally picks up speed as promising Covid-19 drug sends markets higher

KUALA LUMPUR: The winning streak on Bursa Malaysia continued for a fourth day as the US announced encouraging early results from a Covid-19 treatment trial.

According to Reuters, Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease official, said Gilead's antiviral remdesivir will become the standard of care for the coronavirus after early results seemed to show it helped speed recovery.

This came as a fillip to markets, which were already in a rallying mood amid signs of easing lockdowns in major economies.

In Malaysia, the re-opening of certain sectors also promised to move things closer to normalcy.

At 12.30pm, the FBM KLCI was up 19.9 points to 1,400.2, crossing above the psychologically important resistance for the second time since the onset of the crisis.

Trading volume was a healthy 3.67 billion shares with total value of RM1.65bil. The market breadth remained positive with 564 gainers versus 213 decliners and 354 counters unchanged.

Out of the 28 gainers on the 30-stock index, Petronas Chemicals paved the way with a 31 sen lead to RM5.45.

Other heavyweights joined in the bullish momentum: Maybank jumped 10 sen to RM7.51, Tenaga Nasional rose 16 sen to RM12.26, Public Bank added 18 sen to RM16.18, Axiata was eight sen higher at RM3.80 and CIMB climbed seven sen to RM3.44.

There was only one laggard on the index, Hartalega, which shed seven sen to RM16.48 even as sector peer Top Glove inched one sen higher to RM7.27.

Meanwhile, MISC was the only counter staying flat to the reference price at RM7.90.

Crude prices were on the rise as the US crude glut seemed more contained than previously thought. Brent rose US$2.24 to US$24.78 a barrel while Brent crude jumped US$2.05 to US$17.22 a barrel.

Meanwhile, the ringgit was also seen picking up momentum against major currencies amid the rise in crude prices and alleviating pressure on trader sentiment. The local currency was 0.6% higher against the greenback at 4.3120, 0.6% stronger against the pound sterling at 5.3753 and 0.5% higher against the Singapore dollar at 3.0573.
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