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Malaysia Bourse May Turn Lower On Friday

The Malaysia stock market has moved higher in two of three trading days since the end of the two-day slide in which it had fallen almost 20 points or 1 percent. The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index now rests just beneath the 1,840-point plateau although it may reverse those gains on Friday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is negative after U.S. Donald Trump officially imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports - while tumbling crude oil prices add to the soft sentiment. The European and U.S. markets were up, but the Asian markets are expected to head lower.

The KLCI finished slightly higher on Thursday following mixed performances from the financials, plantations and industrials.

For the day, the index added 1.72 points or 0.09 percent to finish at 1,839.62 after trading between 1,838.30 and 1,846.67. Volume was 2.22 billion shares worth 2.05 billion ringgit. There were 475 gainers and 431 decliners, with 446 stocks finishing unchanged.

Among the actives, YTL Corporation plummeted 4,.29 percent, while RHB Capital spiked 1.34 percent, Astro Malaysia Holdings dropped 1.27 percent, Telekom Malaysia jumped 1.26 percent, IOI Corporation climbed 0.84 percent, MISC shed 0.44 percent, Genting Malaysia and IJM Corporation both advanced 0.39 percent, Sime Darby skidded 0.38 percent, IHH Healthcare lost 0.33 percent, CIMB Group fell 0.28 percent, Public Bank collected 0.26 percent, Maybank eased 0.19 percent and Tenaga Nasional, Petronas Gas and Petronas Chemicals were unchanged.

The lead from Wall Street is firm as stocks fluctuated on Thursday, bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line before closing in positive territory.

The Dow added 93.85 points or 0.38 percent to 24,895.21, while the NASDAQ gained 31.30 points or 0.42 percent and the S&P 500 was up 12.17 points or 0.45 percent to 2,738.97.

The higher close came after Trump officially signed proclamations imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

The choppy trading also came as traders looked ahead to the release of the Labor Department's closely watched monthly jobs report later today - which may have a bearing on the FOMC's interest rate forecast.

Ahead of the monthly report, the Labor Department reported a bigger than expected rebound in initial jobless claims in the week ended March 3.

Traders also digested the European Central Bank's latest monetary policy decision, with the ECB leaving rates unchanged, as expected. The ECB's accompanying statement removed a phrase indicating a willingness to increase its asset purchase program if necessary.

Crude oil futures tumbled Thursday on fears that the U.S. dollar will strengthen on rising interest rates. April WTI oil was down $1.03 or 1.7 percent to settle at $60.12/bbl, the lowest in three weeks.

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