Malaysian shares end higher Thursday

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KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian shares ended higher Thursday, as better-than-expected factory output data propped up local sentiment.

Data released Thursday showed June’s industrial production rose a faster-than-expected 5.3 per cent from 2.7 per cent in May.

Economists, according to the Nikkei Asian Review, had expected factory output to rise only 2.8 per cent in June.

The nation’s benchmark FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI advanced 0.34 per cent to 1,678.80 points, its highest since April 27. The KLCI is on course for its second consecutive weekly advance, up 0.9 per cent till Thursday.

The ringgit, hurt by the fall in crude oil prices, declined for the first time in three days by 0.4 per cent to 4.002, said the report.

“We reckon that output will rise by 4.2 per cent year-over-year in July, considering the better growth recorded this month as well as improved performance in export and import of main products recorded in June,” JF Apex Securities said in a note.

The brokerage expects the low base and higher growth in electrical and electronics products to continue to support industrial output expansion.

Crude prices fell more than 2 per cent Wednesday, weighed down by an unexpected build in US crude inventories and petroleum products, said the Nikkei Asian Review report.

On the KLCI, 18 of the 30 constituents ended higher Thursday, while six ended unchanged. Overall advancing issues outnumbered declining ones 416 to 381.

Foreign investors purchased RM125.3 million in Malaysian shares on Wednesday, according to Kenanga Research.

CIMB rose 2.5 per cent to RM4.60, leading gains on the KLCI. The lender has had a strong start to August with a 6 per cent rally so far.

Hong Leong Financial Group rose 1.5 per cent to RM16.12. The stock is among the best performers on the KLCI this year with a 15.5 per cent advance, with recent gains being spurred on expectations of value unlocking on sales of its insurance business.

Other lenders Public Bank, Malayan Banking and RHB Bank also ended higher, rising 0.5 per cent to RM19.66, 0.6 per cent to RM8 and 0.6 per cent to RM4.98, respectively.