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Malaysia Bourse May Extend Thursday's Gains

The Malaysia stock market has finished higher in two of three trading days since the end of the two-day slide in which it had given away more than 7 points or 0.4 percent. The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index remains just beneath the 1,720-point plateau and it may add to its winnings on Friday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is positive on optimism the U.S. government will avoid a shutdown, and a bump in crude oil prices. The European and U.S. markets were up and the Asian bourses figure to open in similar fashion.

The KLCI finished barely higher on Thursday following mixed performances from the financial shares, plantations and industrials.

For the day, the index added 0.72 points or 0.04 percent to finish at 1,719.05 after trading between 1,718.47 and 1,723.40. Volume was 1.8 billion shares worth 2.5 billion ringgit. There were 455 decliners and 388 gainers.

Among the actives, Telekom Malaysia plummeted 3.05 percent, while Sime Darby tumbled 2.27 percent, Genting Malaysia spiked 1.94 percent, Astro Malaysia Holdings skidded 1.07 percent, IOI Corporation climbed 0.90 percent, Axiata Group shed 0.56 percent, Public Bank lost 0.30 percent, Petronas Chemicals advanced 0.27 percent, Tenaga Nasional fell 0.26 percent, Maybank collected 0.11 percent and CIMB Group and YTL Corporation were unchanged.

The lead from Wall Street is firm as stocks saw moderate strength on Thursday, although they remained beneath their recent record closing highs.

The Dow rose 70.57 points or 0.29 percent to 24,211.48, while the NASDAQ advanced 36.47 points or 0.54 percent to 6,812.84 and the S&P 500 climbed 7.71 points or 0.29 percent to 2,636.98.

The strength reflected optimism about lawmakers passing a short-term spending bill to avoid a government shutdown ahead of Friday's deadline. However, traders continued to express uncertainty about the details of the Republican tax reform bill.

In economic news, the Labor Department noted an unexpected decrease in first-time claims for jobless benefits in the week ended December 2. Also, the Federal Reserve said that consumer credit jumped by $20.5 billion in October, beating estimates.

Crude oil futures rebounded Thursday, as traders bet this week's decline was overdone. WTI light sweet crude oil was up 76 cents at $56.72 a barrel, having slipped from near $60 over the past few weeks.

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