PETALING JAYA: Sentiment on Bursa Malaysia was lifted as inflation in the United States slipped from a 40-year peak, offering the US Federal Reserve (Fed) some room to slow down its pace of interest rate hikes.
Buying interest following slower inflation in the United States pushed the FBM KLCI up 13.23 points, or 0.89% to 1,505.56, its highest in a week.
Speaking with StarBiz, Trident Analytics chief research officer Peter Lim Tze Cheng said the latest US inflation report is positive because there is a sign of inflationary pressures tapering off.
With the downtrend of commodity prices, Lim believes market sentiment will improve.
“Even if we are assuming commodity prices do not go down further, these levels are healthy for the global economy,” he said.
According to him, Malaysians do face inflationary pressures, but not to the extent of neighbouring countries. Lim favours the government’s subsidies as he believes that it keeps inflation tame in Malaysia.
“A big chunk of our cost is subsided by the government,” Lim said, adding that if there is no subsidy, inflation rate would be much higher in Malaysia.
While US inflation data offered some respite, a couple of Fed officials, responding to the softer inflation data, said it would not change the US central bank’s path towards higher interest rates for this year and next year.
This includes Minneapolis Fed president Neel Kashkari, who said that he wants the Fed’s benchmark interest rate at 3.9% by the end of this year and at 4.4% by the end of 2023.
Meanwhile, Chicago Fed president Charles Evans expects interest rates to increase for the rest of this year and into next year to make sure inflation gets back to 2%.
In July, US headline consumer price index eased to 8.5%, versus analysts’ expectations of 8.7%. On Bursa Malaysia, Malaysian Pacific Industries Bhd surged RM1.38 to RM32.20, Sam Engineering & Equipment (M) Bhd rose 74 sen to RM4.59, Heineken Malaysia Bhd gained 62 sen to RM24.38 and Fraser & Neave Holdings Bhd added 52 sen to RM23.02.
Hartalega Holdings Bhd, the biggest drag on the index, fell 6.94%, or 17 sen to RM2.28, its lowest since May 2017.
On the external front, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was higher by 1.74%.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 closed 0.65% lower while South Korea’s Kospi rose 1.73%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was up 2.4%, China’s CSI300 index rose 2.04% while the Shanghai Composite Index advanced 1.6%.