The Malaysia stock market has finished higher now in four straight sessions, adding almost 20 points or 1.2 percent en route to a record closing high. The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index settled just above the 1,610-point plateau, and now investors may be tempted to lock in gains when the market opens on Thursday.
The global forecast for the Asian markets is flat with a hint of caution ahead of key central bank meetings in Europe, as well as U.S. employment data on Friday. The European Central Bank and the Bank of England will meet later today; the ECB is expected to cut interest rates, while the BOE may announce further stimulus measures. The European markets were mixed but little changed and the U.S. bourses were closed for the July 4 holiday, and the Asian markets are expected to follow the European lead.
The KLCI finished modestly higher on Wednesday following gains from the financial shares, industrial issues and plantation stocks.
For the day, the index collected 6.01 points or 0.37 percent to finish at 1,613.75 after trading between 1,609.44 and an intraday record high of 1,614.79. Volume was 1.08 billion shares worth 1.69 billion ringgit. There were 408 gainers and 353 decliners, with 331 stocks finishing unchanged.
Among the gainers, Kuala Lumpur Kepong, IOI Corporation, Sime Darby, Felda Global, BLD Plantations, Petronas Chemicals, Public Bank and MBM Resources all finished higher.
There is no lead from Wall Street, and the European markets provided little guidance as stocks snapped a three-day winning streak on Wednesday, with investors adopting a cautious stance ahead of central bank meetings tomorrow and the U.S. jobs report set to be released Friday. Trading volumes slipped due to the Independence Day holiday in the U.S.
Banks remain weak after the European Central Bank tightened the limit on the amount of government guaranteed debt that banks can use as collateral in return for loans.
On the other hand, Commodities such as copper and crude recouped some of their early losses, while the euro stayed weaker against the dollar and yen.
In economic news, the service sector in the euro area contracted less than estimated in June, a survey by Markit Economics showed. The purchasing managers' index for the service sector came in at 47.1 in June, up from 46.8 recorded in the preliminary estimates. The latest figure was also higher than May's reading of 46.7.
In a separate report, Eurozone retail sales recovered unexpectedly in May on robust non-food sales, official data showed Wednesday. Retail sales rose 0.6 percent month-on-month, partially offsetting the 1.4 percent decline in April, Eurostat said. Economists had expected no change in the retail trade volume.
The European markets finished mixed but little changed on Wednesday as Switzerland's SMI ended 0.12 percent higher, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 eased 0.06 percent, the German DAX lost 0.20 percent and France's CAC 40 fell 0.11 percent.
In economic news, the Malaysian central bank will on Thursday conclude its monetary policy meeting and then announce its decision on interest rates. The bank is widely expected to keep rates on hold at 3.00 percent.
Also, Malaysia's exports jumped 6.7 percent on year in May, the Trade Ministry said on Wednesday, while imports advanced 16.2 percent to MYR 54.17 billion. Both exports and imports far exceeded forecasts of 4.8 percent and 7.3 percent, respectively. On a monthly basis, exports were up 1.8 percent, while imports surged 7.9 percent in May. The trade surplus fell to MYR 4.6 billion in May, below the expected level of MYR 7.53 billion.
by RTT Staff Writer
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