The KLCI was the best performer among the key Asian markets. KUALA LUMPUR: Sustained buying of Maybank and Public Bank helped drive the FBM KLCI to its strongest close in 18 months while the ringgit scaled to the highest since mid-July 2018 against the US dollar. At 5pm, the KLCI was up 30.19 points or 1.82% to 1,684.58 while year-to-date, the index was up 6.03% year-to-date. Turnover was 10.03 billion shares valued at RM6.18bil. The broader market was mixed with 626 gainers, 690 losers and 433 counters unchanged. The KLCI was the best performer among the key Asian markets. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index added 0.36% and South Korea's Kospi 0.86% but Japan's Nikkei 225 slipped 0.39%, Shanghai Composite fell 0.77% and Singapore's Straits Times Index 0.12%. However, the ringgit rose 0.2% to 4.0513 against the US dollar and it was the strongest since mid-July 2018. The gains came amid weakness in the greenback and a recent advance in crude prices, according to Bloomberg. The market shrugged off the weaker-than-expected industrial production index (IPI) in October which shrank by 0.5% from a year ago. This was below a Bloomberg survey of 0.2% increase, which was the first contraction since July. Public Bank was the top gainer, up RM1.70 to RM12.90 and added 10.39 points to the KLCI, as investors bought the shares after its four-for-one bonus shares. Its substantial shareholder, LPI gained 60 sen to RM13.80. The positive newsflow from Public Bank and analysts expectations of a firmer economic recovery spilled over to other banks. Maybank rose 53 sen to RM8.91 and added 9.38 points. CIMB added 17 sen to RM4.45 and Honf Leong Bank 10 sen to RM19 while RHB Bank was flat at RM5.85. The rally in crude oil stalled at US light crude oil fell 13 cents to US$46.65 and Brent 21 cents lower at US$50.04. However, Petronas Chemicals rose 23 sen to RM7.89 and added 2.89 points, Petronas Dagangan four sen to RM20.42 but Petronas Gas shed six sen to RM17.20. Dialog eased two sen to RM3.51. Crude palm oil for third month delivery rose RM1 to RM3,404 per tonne. Sime Plantation and KL Kepong rose 10 sen each to RM5.16 and RM23.76, IOI Corp three sen to RM4.48 but PPB Group fell 48 sen to RM18.26 and Batu Kawan 20 sen lower to RM17.76. Consumer stocks with good dividends fared well with Carlsberg up RM1.36 to RM22.28, Heineken 66 sen to RM22.28 and Nestle 40 sen to RM137.70. Profit taking on glove stocks saw Hartalega slumping by 64 sen to RM13.72 and erasing 3.45 points while Top Glove lost nine sen to RM6.90. Kossan was down 43 sen to RM5.39 and Supermax 21 sen to RM7.56. Weighing on the KLCI was Tenaga while fell 16 sen to RM10.34, MOSC four sen to RM6.78 and Press Metal 14 sen to RM7.90. Spot gold rose 54 cents to US$1,837.11 per troy ounce.
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