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Malaysia Stock Market May Extend Winning Streak

The Malaysia stock market has closed higher now in five straight sessions, rising more than a dozen points or 0.8 percent. The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index finished just above the 1,585-point plateau, and now analysts are forecasting another slightly higher open for the market on Monday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is mixed with a slight upside bias, with disappointing economic data from the United States offset by solid corporate earnings news. The European markets were mixed but little changed and the U.S. bourses ended slightly higher - and the Asian markets figure to split the difference.

The KLCI finished slightly higher on Friday as gains from the plantation stocks and industrials were limited by softness from the financial shares.

For the day, the index added 2.59 points or 0.18 percent to finish at 1,585.83 after trading between 1,582.88 and 1,587.08. Volume was 1.997 billion shares worth 1.41 billion ringgit. There were 520 decliners and 282 gainers, with 317 stocks finishing unchanged.

Among the actives, Maybank, CIMB Group, Petronas Chemicals, Ingenuity Solutions and Metronic Global all finished lower, while Sime Darby was unchanged and Trinity Corp ended higher.

The lead from Wall Street offers mild support as stocks finished a choppy day of trading in positive territory on Friday, overcoming an early dip to end the session with modest gains.

Shares dropped in early trading, threatening to continue a bout of profit taking that has marked most of the week. The morning slide came on the heels of disappointing new home sales data, which showed an unexpected decline for February. New home sales fell 1.6 percent in February, dropping to a pace of 313,000 homes. Prices were up, however, climbing 8.3 percent to $233,700.

On the corporate scene, Darden Restaurants (DRI) said its quarterly profit rose 8 percent from last year. The bottom line at the owner of the Red Lobster and Olive Garden restaurant chains was boosted by sales that climbed to $2.2 billion from about $2 billion last year.

Micron Technology (MU) announced a loss for its latest quarter, reversing a profit posted in the same period last year. Sales and margins at the memory chip maker both deteriorated.

Nike (NKE) revealed a quarterly profit that rose 7 percent from last year. The athletic shoe maker said its revenue jumped 15 percent to nearly $5.9 billion.

IT services company Accenture (ACN) reported a stronger-than-expected rise in its quarterly profit. The company benefited from revenue growth across all operating groups. Accenture also raised its expectations for the full year.

Stocks quickly snapped back, although it took the NASDAQ most of the day to get back into positive territory. The major averages eventually finished the session higher. The Dow gained 34.59 points or 0.27 percent to finish at 13,080.73, while the NASDAQ advanced 4.60 points or 0.15 percent to end at 3,067.92. The S&P 500 climbed 4.33 points or 0.31 percent to close at 1,397.11.

In economic news, Malaysia's consumer price index increased 2.2 percent annually in February, the Department of Statistics said on Friday, slower than the 2.7 percent gain in January and shy of forecast for 2.4 percent. Prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages increased 2.9 percent annually, while non-food prices gained 1.8 percent in February. Transportation prices increased 1.4 percent annually in February. Month-on-month, consumer prices were flat in February following 0.3 percent gain in January.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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