KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 14): The stock market, dominated by speculative play in penny stocks, closed marginally higher with the benchmark FBM KLCI rising only 0.1%.
At 5pm today, the KLCI had climbed 1.93 points or 0.1% to close at 1,684.63 points. Gainers were equally matched by losers, with 323 counters each on the scoreboard. Volume traded was 1.214 billion shares, valued at RM1.299 billion.
"The market was dull and boring. There were local funds helping to support the KLCI to prevent it from slipping after recent window-dressing activity that was a bit overdone.
"The overall market activity was ruled by penny stocks. It seems that investors believe it is easier to play up the cheap stocks and make money fast," said a senior dealer with a bank-backed securities firm.
Among the heavyweights that helped lift the KLCI were Maxis, Maybank, Tenaga and Genting.
Among the actives, Patimas Computers –- the most active stock -– rose on reports that a prominent businessman may rescue the company and that it might get a new business. The counter ended 1.5 sen up at 16 sen on 158 million shares done.
Other speculative stocks that grabbed slots in the top actives list included DBE, Takaso, Luster, Kbunai and Tiger.
Dealers said the local market was not affected by the huge incident-free political rally held over the weekend.
Hong Kong shares ended higher with financial and property stocks leading gains, although global exporter Li & Fung Ltd tumbled 15% after a profit warning, according to Reuters.
The Hang Seng Index closed 0.6% higher at 23,413.26 points. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong climbed 1.4%. Hong Kong markets were also buoyed by a rise in China shares to their best close since June.
The CSI300 of the top Shanghai and Shenzhen A-shares closed up 3.8% at 2,577.7 points. The Shanghai Composite Index closed 3.1% higher at 2,311.7, after losing 1.5% last week.
European shares were flat at opening calls on Monday, with French energy firm EDF the top gainer after it reached a deal with the government over a tax levy shortfall. The FTSEurofirst 300 was at 1,163.91 by 0813 GMT, consolidating just shy of a two-year high after rising almost 3% since the start of the year.
Corporate earnings season would likely remain the main driver of market sentiment, Craig Erlam, market strategist at Alpari, told Reuters. "With earnings expectations so low for the fourth quarter, it's difficult to see where any downside is going to come from. Thus, I expect European markets to continue to rally this week," he said.
The banking sector in particular will fall under the spotlight this week, with JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs among the firms set to report.