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Malaysia Shares May Again Challenge The 1,600-Point Mark

The Malaysia stock market has finished higher in three straight sessions, rising more than 15 points or 1 percent along the way. The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index now rests just above the 1,565-point plateau and it's tipped to open in the green again on Monday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is positive thanks to solid economic data from the world's largest economies. The European and U.S. markets were up on Friday and the Asian bourses are expected to follow that lead.

The KLCI finished modestly higher on Friday following mixed performances from the financial shares, plantation stocks and telecoms.

For the day, the index gained 7.93 points or 0.50 percent to finish at the daily high of 1,595.81 after moving as low as 1,586.76.

Among the actives, Petronas Dagangan surged 5.97 percent, while Axiata soared 5.50 percent, Sime Darby spiked 1.80 percent, Maxis accelerated 1.79 percent, Digi.com jumped 1.76 percent, Top Glove climbed 1.06 percent, AMMB Holdings gathered 1.03 percent, IHH Healthcare perked 0.90 percent, Dialog Group tumbled 0.88 percent, Malaysia Airports Holdings skidded 0.84 percent, Genting Malaysia advanced 0.60 percent, Press Metal plunged 0.58 percent, RHB Capital added 0.52 percent, IOI Corporation rose 0.43 percent, Petronas Chemicals dropped 0.42 percent, Kuala Lumpur Kepong shed 0.41 percent, MISC gained 0.37 percent, Public Bank collected 0.20 percent, CIMB Group lost 0.19 percent, Sime Darby Plantations increased 0.19 percent, Maybank was up 0.12 percent and Petronas Gas, Tenaga Nasional and Hong Leong Bank were unchanged.

The lead from Wall Street is positive as stocks fluctuated Friday but still inched higher, sending the major averages to fresh record closing highs.

The Dow added 50.46 points or 0.17 percent to 29,348, while the NASDAQ gained 31.81 points or 0.34 percent to 9,388.94 and the S&P 500 rose 12.81 points or 0.39 percent to 3,329.62. For the week, the Sow added1.8 percent, the NASDAQ gained 2.3 percent and the S&P rose 2 percent.

The continued strength on Wall Street was widely attributed to Chinese GDP data even though the latest report showed China's economy grew at the slowest pace since 1990. But the GDP growth matched estimates, which suggested the impact of the U.S.-China trade war wasn't worse than feared.

In U.S. economic news, the Commerce Department noted a substantial increase in U.S. housing starts in December. Also, the Federal Reserve observed a modest pullback in U.S. industrial production last month.

Crude oil futures failed to hold early gains and settled near the flat line Friday as traders weighed demand and supply position in the market. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures ended at $58.54 a barrel, gaining 2 cents for the session after peaking earlier at $58.98 a barrel. For the week, crude oil futures shed about 0.8 percent.

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