Blue chips chalked up firm gains at midday on Wednesday, underpinned by gains in Sime Darby and Petronas stocks but the ringgit slumped against the US dollar to 4.5, the lowest since 1998.
At 12.30pm, the FBM KLCI was up 7.93 points to 1,643.46. Turnover was 1.01 billion shares valued at RM605.37mil. There were 413 gainers, 253 losers and 333 counters unchanged.
The ringgit was quoted at 4.5002 to the greenback versus the previous day’s close of 4.4938. It was at the weakest since the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997-1998 and saw the government pegging the currency at 3.8 to the US$.
The ringgit slipped against the Singapore dollar to 3.1075 from 3.1008 and fell against the pound sterling to 5.5088 from 5.5040 while it was firmer against the Euro at 4.6829 from 5.6892.
Reuters reported oil edged higher on Wednesday, with top exporter Saudi Arabia expected to raise prices for its crude as part of planned supply cuts, although a strong dollar and moderate economic growth prospects restricted gains. US light crude oil rose 38 cents to US$52.71 and Brent gained 39 cents to US$55.86.
Petronas Gas and Petronas Chemicals added 10 sen each to RM21.48 and RM7.09 while Petronas Dagangan was flat at RM23.80.
KNM rose one sen to 36.5 sen, Hibiscus added 0.5 sen to 44 sen while Sumatec, Bumi Armada and Perisai were flat at nine sen, 64.5 sen and nine sen respectively. Enra added eight sen to RM2.04.
Among the banks, Maybank rose seven sen to RM8.08 and pushed the KLCI up 1.17 points, Pubic Bank added eight sen to RM19.84, CIMB was up six sen to RM4.60, AmBank thtree sen higher at RM4.30 but Hong Leong Bank lost two sen to RM13.28.
Crude palm oil (CPO) for third-month delivery fell RM24 to RM3,139 per tonne, snapping the recent rally.
CIMB Equities Research said the 2016 CPO price was projected to average RM2,650 per tonne and “we expect CPO price to trade in the range of RM2,800 to RM3,200 per tonne in January 2017”.
Heavyweight Sime Darby rose 13 sen to RM8.32 on fund buying and pushed the KLCI up 1.45 points. KL Kepong was flat at RM24, IOI Corp shed one sen to RM4.42 and PPB Group gave up six sen to RM15.88.
Tenaga Nasional rose two sen to RM13.82, Genting Bhd five sen to RM7.95 and Genbting Malaysia two sen higher at RM4.60.
As for telcos, Axiata fell thee sen to RM43.49, Maxis and Telekom edged up two sen each to RM6.02 and RM5.97 while Digi added three sen to RM4.89.
Furniture maker Latitude Tree rose 13 sen to RM5.07 as analysts view there was more upside.
As for consumer stocks, Carlsberg rose 12 sen to RM14.08 but Nestle lost 92 sen to RM77.28, BAT fell 24 sen to RM44.36 and Apollo seven sen lower at RM5.08.
AirAsia was in focus, falling eight sen to RM2.23 with 11 million shares done. Bloomberg reported Deutsche Bank cut the low-cost carrier to Sell from Hold.
Among the key regional markets,
Japan’s Nikkei 225 jumped 2.18% to 19,531.01;
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index shed 0.09% to 22,130.30;
CSI 300 rose 0.42% to 3,356.13;
Shanghai’s Composite Index gained 0.39% to 3,148.29;
Hang Seng China Enterprise shed 0.2% to 9,440.26;
Taiwan’s Taiex rose 0.19% to 9,290.86;
South Korea’s Kospi shed 0.04% to 2,043.17 and
Singapore’s Straits Times Index rose 0.74% to 2,920.42.
Spot gold rose US$2.11 to US$1,160.95 per troy ounce.