Hong Leong Bank props up KLCI amid cautious broader market

KUALA LUMPUR: Hong Leong Bank advanced in early Friday trade and underpinned the FBM KLCI’s slight gains but the overall breadth of the market was somewhat cautious, tracking the key Asian markets.

At 9.07am, the KLCI was up 1.52 points or 0.1% to 1,582.78. Turnover was 560.24 million shares valued at RM258.10mil. Decliners beat advancers two to one or 377 losers to 191 gainers while 278 counters were unchanged.

Tech stocks retreated after the overnight fall of the tech-heavy Nasdaq.

Reuters reported Asian stocks skidded as rising US Treasury yields again rattled equity investors while hoisting the dollar to a three-month high, which in turn dragged the Japanese yen to an eight-month trough.

Australian stocks shed 1%, Japan's Nikkei share average lost 0.7%, shares in Seoul fell 0.24% and E-Mini S&P futures were a touch lower at 0.04%.

US stocks had dropped sharply on Thursday after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell disappointed some investors by not indicating that the Fed might step up purchases of long-term bonds to hold down longer-term interest rates.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite tumbled 2.1%, taking it down about 10% from its record closing high on Feb 12 and putting it in correction territory.

At Bursa on Thursday, TA Securities Research said while recovery plays gain traction, supported by Bank Negara holding interest rates pat on views that economic recovery momentum should increase, rising inflationary expectations should cap gains.

"Overhead index resistance is retained at the 50-day moving average at 1,601, with tougher hurdles seen from the upper Bollinger band (1,609), 1,620 and 1,640. Immediate support is still set at the recent low of 1,568, followed by 1,557and the 200-day moving average at 1,556," it said.

Foreign funds turned sellers at net RM162mil but local institutions reversed their selling with net buying at RM84.5mil while local retail investors remained net buyers at RM77.6mil.

Hong Leong Bank rose eight sen to RM18.50.

Insas-WC was the top gainer, up 23.5 sen to 25 sen, MCE Holdings added 16 sen to RM1.57 while Dataprep was up nine sent to RM2.21 while Tasco added six sen to RM4.25.

Higher crude oil prices gave refiners a boost as Petron added 13 sen to RM4.80 and Hengyuan nine sen to RM5.89.

Genting Plantations was the top gainer among plantations, riding on the strong crude palm oil prices. It rose seven sen to RM9.44.

MPI fell RM1.76 to RM40.80, Unisem 33 sen to RM7.99, Vitrox and UWC 20 sen each to RM16.08 and RM6.22, Greatec 13 sen to RM5.51, Frontken 15 sen to RM4.91.

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