KUALA LUMPUR: Bargain hunting of oversold blue chips amid an upbeat regional performance gave Bursa Malaysia a boost on Wednesday.
A rebound in oil prices and easing fears over the banking turmoil in the United States and Europe also contributed to improved sentiments on the local front.
At 5 pm, the FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI (FBM KLCI) advanced 11.26 points, or 0.80 per cent, to 1,420.35 from yesterday's closing of 1,409.09.
The main index opened 1.61 points lower at 1,407.48, recording its intraday low, but later hit a high of 1,422.69 during the mid-morning session.
Market breadth was positive as gainers beat decliners by 574 to 331, while 400 counters were unchanged, 986 untraded, and 25 others suspended.
Turnover jumped to 3.42 billion units worth RM1.74 billion versus yesterday's 2.83 billion units worth RM1.51 billion.
Rakuten Trade Sdn Bhd equity research vice-president Thong Pak Leng said markets also received an unexpected lift from improved US consumer confidence data in March.
The latest report from the Conference Board showed the business group’s consumer confidence index ticked up to 104.2 in March, better than the forecast 101.0 reading. The prior month's print stood at 103.4.
"However, economists anticipate inflation in the United States to stay high over the next year,” he told Bernama.
The latest report also revealed that consumers' expectations of inflation over the next 12 months remained elevated at 6.3 per cent.
"On the domestic front, we are cautiously optimistic given the improving sentiment on local and regional equities,” he said. Barring unforeseen circumstances, Thong reckons that the FBM KLCI would trend within the range of 1,410-1,425 for the remainder of the week.
Among the heavyweight counters, CIMB gained 10 sen to RM5.31, IHH put on eight sen to RM5.83 while Maybank and Sime Darby added five sen each to RM8.56 and RM2.20, respectively.
Axiata was four sen better at RM3.00 and MISC gained seven sen to RM7.18.
Among the actives, Computer Forms bagged 5.5 sen to 24 sen, MMAG and Hong Seng Consolidated were unchanged at 1.5 sen and 11.5 sen respectively, while BSL Corp went up one sen to five sen.