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Malaysia Stock Market Likely To Remain Rangebound

The Malaysia stock market has finished lower in two of three trading days since the end of the four-day winning streak in which it had advanced more than 30 points or 2 percent. The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index now rests just above the 1,540-point plateau although it's expected to bounce higher again on Thursday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is upbeat on easing coronavirus fears and rising crude oil prices. The European and U.S. markets were up and the Asian bourses are tipped to follow suit.

The KLCI finished modestly lower on Wednesday following losses from the financial shares and a mixed picture from the telecoms.

For the day, the index lost 8.54 points or 0.55 percent to finish at 1,542.94 after trading between 1,538.66 and 1,555.66. Volume was 2.8 billion shares worth 2.8 billion ringgit. There were 419 gainers and 405 decliners.

Among the actives, Hong Leong Bank plummeted 4.34 percent, while Malaysia Airports Holdings soared 4.08 percent, Maxis surged 3.33 percent, Public Bank plunged 2.84 percent, CIMB Group tumbled 2.56 percent, Top Glove accelerated 2.27 percent, Petronas Chemicals skidded 2.10 percent, Hartalega Holdings spiked 2.00 percent, RHB Capital retreated 1.92 percent, Dialog Group jumped 1.19 percent, Maybank declined 0.94 percent, IHH Healthcare climbed 0.70 percent, Digi.com sank 0.46 percent, Sime Darby advanced 0.45 percent, Genting Malaysia added 0.33 percent, AMMB Holdings shed 0.26 percent, Axiata lost 0.23 percent, IOI Corporation gained 0.22 percent, Genting rose 0.19 percent and Sime Darby Plantations, Tenaga Nasional, Kuala Lumpur Kepong and Press Metal were unchanged.

The lead from Wall Street is positive as stocks made a strong move to the upside on Wednesday, adding to the modest gains in the previous session and sending the major averages to new record closing highs.

The Dow added 275.08 points or 0.94 percent to end at 29,551.42, while the NASDAQ rose 87.02 points or 0.90 percent to 9,725.96 and the S&P 500 gained 21.70 points or 0.65 percent to 3,379.45.

The rally on Wall Street came as traders pushed stocks to new record highs despite concerns about the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak; a recent slowdown in the rate of growth in new infections has led to optimism the outbreak is being contained.

Traders also kept an eye on Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's testimony before the Senate Banking Committee. Powell said the Fed is closely monitoring the coronavirus outbreak but also highlighted the resilience of the U.S. economy.

Despite a jump in U.S. crude stockpiles last week, crude oil prices moved up sharply on Wednesday amid expectations that OPEC will significantly cut crude production. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for March ended up $1.23 or 2.5 percent at $51.17 a barrel.

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