China's Caixin manufacturing Purchasing Manager's Index rose to 51.5 in September from 51.0 in August, beating analyst expectation of a milder increase, and lending hope of an economic recovery.
The upbeat data helped to offset the negative mood sparked by the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, which observers have called an exchange of hostilities between the two candidates.
At 12.30pm, the key index was up 8.23 points to 1,512.13, with Public Bank, MISC and Petronas Chemicals leading the advance.
Banks were positive for a second straight day with Public Bank gaining 28 sen to RM15.86, Maybank adding four sen to RM7.20, Hong Leong Bank rising two sen to RM15.02, RHB lifting six sen to RM4.60 and CIMB edging one sen higher to RM3.10.
MISC was up 17 sen to RM7.49 while Petronas Chemicals rose 14 sen to RM5.56.
In telcos, Maxis gained five sen to RM5.23, Axiata climbed three sen to RM2.96 and Digi rose five sen to RM3.98.
The broad rally in heavyweights offset a weaker performance in glove stocks as investors took profit for a second day. Top Glove dropped two sen to RM8.45 and Hartalega slid 18 sen to RM16.82.
Counters seeing the most trading interest were XOX down one sen to 14 sen, Kanger falling two sen to 19 sen and Trive up 0.5 sen to two sen.
Overseas, the Chinese composite index rose 0.5% while Hong Kong's Hang Seng jumped 1.2%.
Japan's equities however were 1% lower and Australia's ASX200 slumped 1.9%.
Meanwhile, the looming winter triggered further anxieties over a worsening pandemic in European countries, leading to an extended decline in crude oil prices.
US crude was down 41 cents to US$38.88 a barrel and Brent crude dropped 46 cents to US$40.57 a barrel.
Did you find this article insightful?
100% readers found this article insightful