KUALA LUMPUR: Blue chips closed slightly lower on Thursday on profit taking of Hong Leong Bank and MISC but helping to shore up the FBM KLCI was Public Bank after its record FY17 earnings.
The FBM KLCI closed down 3.1 points or 0.17% to 1,855.07, tracking most of the key Asian markets. Turnover was 2.34 billion shares valued at RM2.06bil. There were 442 gainers, 453 losers and 444 counters unchanged.
The ringgit fell 0.35% to the US dollar at 3.9195 while its shed 0.03% to the Singapore dollar at 2.9594. However, it climbed 0.19% tp the pound to 5.4447 and edge dip 0.02% to the euro at 4.8130.
The US dollar inched up to a 10-day high on Thursday, after minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s January meeting showed policymakers confident in rising inflation and the need for interest rates to keep increasing, Reuters reported.
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, climbed to as high as 90.235 , the strongest since Feb. 13.
Bitcoin rose US$275 to US$10,557.
Hong Leong Bank's recent rally hit a speed bump, falling 42 sen to RM18.22 and erasing 1.62 points from the KLCI. AmBank lost five sen to RM4.58 while CIMB was flat at RM7.13, Maybank rose two sen to RM10.20 and RHB Bank six sen higher at RM5.38.
Public Bank lifted the KLCI nearly one point, up 14 sen to RM22.28. Its earnings for the financial year ended Dec 31, 2017 were at a record RM5.47bil, up 5% from the RM5.20bil a year ago. It rewarded shareholders with a proposed dividend of 34 sen a share.
MISC fell 12 sen to RM7 while Tenaga lost six sen to RM15.64 and IHH four sen lower at RM5.99.
Crude palm oil fell RM7 yo RM2,482 per tonne.
As for plantations, PPB Group lost eight sen to RM17.68 but KL Kepong added eight sen to RM25.58 and IOI Corp gained two sen to RM4.78.
Sime Darby Plantation lost three sen to RM5.50, Sime Darby added two sen to RM2.75 and Sime Darby Property lost one sen to RM1.43.
US light crude oil fell 55 cents to US$61.13 and Brent fell 48 cents to RM64.94. Among the oil and gas stocks, Petronas Chemical lost three sen to RM8.11, Petronas Dagngan added eight sen to RM25.50 while Petronas Gas gained six sen to
As for telcos, Digi was flat RM4.89, Maxis shed three sen to RM6.08, Axiata eased one sen to RM5.67 but Telekom rose five sen to RM6.05.
MAHB fell 13 sen to RM8.76. Maybank Investment Bank Research is maintaining its Sell call on the counter with a target price of RM8.11 compared with the last traded price of RM8.89 on Wednesday.
AirAsia X rose one sen to 41.5 sen with 170 million shares after it stronger earnings for FY17.
Toyo Ink-WA jumped 9.5 sen to 10 sen with 141.6 million units done while its shares surged 23 sen to RM1.01, prompting a query from Bursa Securities.
Dutch Lady was the top gainer, up RM1.40 to RM66, Ajinomoto added 50 sen to RM22, Heineken 30 sen higher at RM20.80 while BAT gained 20 sen to RM30.50 and F&N 18 sen to RM30.50 also. Nestle lost 50 sen to RM121.50.
Among the key Asian markets, China's major stock indexes scored their best single-day gains in more than 18 months, as investors played catch-up after the week-long Lunar New Year holiday.
The Shanghai Composite index was up 2.17% at 3,268.73, its best single-day gain since August 2016, Reuters reported.
However, Hong Kong stocks pulled back on Thursday from a two-week high hit in the previous session as investors took profit from sectors such as tech and financials , though the decline was capped by inflows from mainland China. The Hang Seng index was down 1.48 % at 30,965.68.
Asean markets also pulled back with Singapore's STI down 0.79%, Jakarta's Composite lost 0.76% and Thailand SETI losing 0.6%.