Ringgit closes firmer against major currencies, KLCI slumps
KUALA LUMPUR: The ringgit and the FBM KLCI went in opposite directions on Friday, as the local unit rallied against the key currencies but blue chips fell in a markedly weaker broader markets due to the geopolitical worries.
At 5pm, the KLCI had closed down 7.19 points or 0.41% to 1,730.99. Turnover was 3.15 billion shares valued at RM1.86bil. Decliners beat advancers 801 to 171 while 289 counters were unchanged.
A positive outlook for the ringgit saw it climbing 0.13% against the US dollar at 4.4070 from the previous close of 4.4128. It surged 0.52% against the pound sterling to 5.5140 from 5.5428, it gained 0.33% against the Singapore dollar to 3.1535 from 3.1641. While against the euro, it rose 0.42% to 4.6813 from 4.7010.
Bloomberg reported Neuberger Berman Group LLC saying the ringgit may be among the region’s better performers in coming months, while an improving economy has convinced Nikko Asset Management Co to change its view of Malaysian bonds to “neutral” after earlier cutting holdings.
“The ringgit has a few things going for it now,” Prashant Singh, Neuberger’s senior portfolio manager for emerging market debt, said in an interview in Singapore last week.
On the external front, Japanese shares slipped to a four-month low on Friday as rising tension in the Korean peninsula and other parts of the world soured investor appetite, Reuters reported.
In China, main indexes on Friday had their biggest loss in two weeks amid concerns over stepped-up regulation and whether an economic recovery could be losing steam, it reported. Hong Kong and Singapore were closed for Good Friday.
US light crude oil rose seven cents to US$53.18 while Brent added three cents to US$55.89.
However, Petronas Chemicals fell 15 sen to RM7.60 and erased 2.03 points from the KLCI, Petronas Daganagan lost 16 sen to RM RM24 and Petronas Gas fell eight sen to RM19.48.
Axiata fell seven sen to RM5.06 and erased 1.06 points from the KLCI while Maxis and Digi were flat at RM6.42 and RM5.10 and Telekom edged up one sen to RM6.40.
Genting Bhd fell 11 sen to RM9.25, Genting Malaysia five sen to RM5.63, MISC eight sen to RM7.31 while Tenaga ended down four sen to RM13.70.
Financial stocks and banks also ended lower, with HLFG down 14 sen to RM16.26, AmBank five sen to RM4.85, Public Bank four sen to RM19.90, RHB Bank three sen to RM5.06 and Maybank shed one sen to RM8.95. CIMB and Hong Leong Bank were flat at RM5.38 and RM13.70.
Crude palm oil for third-month delivery fell RM15 to RM2,551 per tonne. KL Kepong ended the day down 28 sen to RM23.82, PPB Group eight sen lower at RM16.60, Sime Darby one sen to RM9.27 and IOICorp flat at RM4.40.
MPI skidded 42 sen to RM10.80, HCK Capital lost 33 sen to RM5.40, Pos Malaysia was down 14 sen to RM4.96.
Tile maker and property company Seacera saw its shares and warrants buck the weaker market. Seacera-WB jumped 15.5 sen to 48.5 sen, the WA surged 14 sen to 18 sen and the shares seven sen higher at 98 sen.
Among the key regional markets,
Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.49% to 18,335.63;
CSI 300 lost 0.82% to 3,485.81;
Shanghai’s Composite Index ended down 0.91% to 3,246.07;
Taiwan’s Taiex tumbled 1.05% to 9,732.93 and
South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.64% to 2,134.88.
Spot gold fell US$1.17 to US$1,286.75.