The Malaysia stock market has alternated between positive and negative finishes through the last six trading days since the end of the five-day winning streak in which it had risen more than 30 points or 1.9 percent. The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index finished just shy of the 1,690-point plateau, and now investors are anticipating additional support when the market kicks off trade on Thursday.
The global forecast for the Asian markets is positive thanks to optimism about the outlook for corporate earnings following the release of quarterly results from Alcoa, which unofficially kicked off the earnings season. The European and U.S. markets finished higher on Wednesday, and the Asian bourses are tipped to open in similar fashion on Thursday.
The KLCI finished slightly higher on Wednesday as gains from the industrial issues and plantation stocks were offset by weakness from the financial sector.
For the day, the index added 1.02 points or 0.06 percent to finish at 1,689.93 after trading between 1,688.96 and 1,694.21. Volume was 1.104 billion shares worth 1.587 billion ringgit. There were 375 decliners and 339 gainers, with 325 stocks finishing unchanged.
Among the actives, Sime Darby, Axiata and DSC Solutions finished lower, while Maybank was flat and Patimas Computers ended higher.
The lead from Wall Street is cautiously optimistic as stocks moved back to the upside on Wednesday after ending the two previous sessions in the red. The markets benefited from a positive reaction to quarterly results from Alcoa.
Alcoa reported fourth quarter adjusted earnings of $0.06 per share compared to a year ago loss of $0.03 per share, matching estimates. The aluminum giant also reported Q4 revenues that came in above expectations and forecast a 7 percent increase in demand in 2013.
While shares of Alcoa rose as much as 2.5 percent at the open and reached a three-month high, the stock turned lower over the course of the trading day. Alcoa ended the session down by 0.2 percent.
The news from Alcoa generated some optimism about the unfolding earnings season, although traders still seemed reluctant to add to last week's substantial rally. A lack of major U.S. economic data helped to keep some traders on the sidelines.
Among individual stocks, shares of Clearwire (CLWR) moved higher after the wireless broadband operator received an unsolicited takeover bid from Dish Network (DISH) valuing the company at $3.30 per share. Clearwire jumped 7.2 percent on the day.
Social media giant Facebook (FB) also posted a strong gain after the company issued a mysterious invitation to journalists to "Come and see what we're building." Some are speculating that the company plans to unveil a Facebook phone.
The major U.S. averages were higher on Wednesday as the Dow rose 61.66 points or 0.5 percent to finish at 13,390.51, while the NASDAQ advanced 14.00 points or 0.5 percent to end at 3,105.81 and the S&P 500 climbed 3.87 points or 0.3 percent to close at 1,461.02.
In economic news, Malaysia's exports were up 3.3 percent on year to 58.67 billion ringgit in November, the Department of Statistics said on Wednesday -beating forecasts for a 2.3 percent gain. Imports advanced 4.3 percent on year to 49.39 billion ringgit, slower than forecasts for 4.4 percent. In the January-November period, Malaysia's total exports increased 1.3 percent on year, while imports climbed 7.1 percent, data showed.
by RTT Staff Writer
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