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Tight Range Expected For Malaysia Stock Market

The Malaysia stock market has moved higher now in consecutive trading days, rising more than 10 points or 0.7 percent along the way. The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index settled just above the 1,560-point plateau, and now investors are looking for precious little movement when the market kicks off trade on Tuesday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is more of the same on Tuesday in what could be a quiet session that is devoid of leads from Wall Street, which was closed in observance of President's Day. After posting mostly solid gains on Monday, the Asian markets get a positive lead from Europe and are expected to continue to trend to the upside, although profit taking may pare the upside later in the session.

The KLCI finished slightly higher on Monday as gains from the financial shares and industrial issues were dented by consolidation from the plantation stocks.

For the day, the index collected 3.42 points or 0.22 percent to finish at 1,560.57 after trading between the 1,562.60 and 1,557.31. Volume was 1.864 billion shares worth 1.611 billion ringgit. There were 469 decliners and 349 gainers, with 339 stocks finishing unchanged.

Among the gainers, Maybank, Hong Leong Bank, British American Tobacco, Nestle, Oriental, Sime Darby, Petronas Chemicals and Maxis all finished higher.

With the U.S. markets closed on Monday, the European markets offer a positive lead as the European Union downplayed Iran's stoppage of oil exports to its member-states by saying that the 27-nation bloc is self-sufficient to meet its oil demands.

Last month, an EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting had banned imports of Iranian crude oil and petroleum products from July 1 in a bid to force Iran to agree to halt its nuclear program.

European Commission spokesperson on energy Marlene Holzner said on Monday that if there were no other importers to replace Iran, EU oil stocks would suffice for a long period of time because Iranian supplies accounted for only 5.8 percent of Europe's total crude imports.

In European economic news, consumer confidence in Belgium dropped for the second consecutive month to its lowest level nearly three years in February, falling to -20 from January's -16. The latest score is the lowest since April 2009. The drop in the indicator is mainly the consequence of greatly increased pessimism on the part of consumers with regard to the unemployment outlook, the bank said. The corresponding index jumped to 47 from 34.

Also, French business confidence stabilized in February at a level last seen in March 2010, as improvement in production expectations was offset by worsening export orders and past production.

The European markets were broadly higher on Monday with Germany's DAX rising 1.46 percent, while the CAC in France jumped 0.96 percent, Sweden climbed 0.99 percent, London's FTSE collected 0.68 percent and the Swiss market was barely in the green, up 0.08 percent.

In economic news, Malaysia's leading index increased 0.4 percent to 111.7 in December from 111.2 in November, the Department of Statistics said on Monday. In October, the reading was 112.9. Year-on-year, the index remained unchanged in December.

The coincident index, which measures the current economic activity, moved up 0.2 percent to 114.3 in December from 114.1 in the previous month. Compared to December 2010, the coincident index rose 1.2 percent. At the same time, the lagging index rose to 125.2 during the month from 125 in November.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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