Published: Wednesday April 24, 2013 MYT 1:17:00 PM

KLCI lags regional markets, lacks catalysts

By Joseph Chin

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's blue chips lagged the key regional markets at midday on Wednesday as investors stayed on the sidelines in the absence of fresh catalysts to spur buying interest.

At 12.30pm, the FBM KLCI was up 2.14 points or 0.13% to 1,702.53. Turnover was 351.41mil shares valued at RM546mil. There were 238 gainers, 233 losers and 315 stocks unchanged.

Asian stocks rose, Bloomberg reported as the regional benchmark index headed for a 20-month high, as Japanese exporters advanced after the yen weakened and increased sales of new homes in the U.S. added to signs the world's biggest economy is recovering.

Among the key regional markets:

Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 1.73% to 13,764.34;

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 1.29% to 22,088.95;

Shanghai's Composite Index rose 0.68% to 2,199.42;

Taiwan's Taiex rose 0.87% to 8,011.98

South Korea's Kospi rose 0.81% to 1,934.08

Singapore's Straits Times Index added 0.31% to 3,294.53.

At Bursa Malaysia. Petronas Gas rose 22 sen to RM19.48, pushing the KLCI up 0.62 of a point while Petronas Dagangan gained six sen to RM23.46 and Petronas Chemical three sen to RM6.46.

Crude palm oil for third-month futures fell RM3 to RM2,269. PPB Group rose six sen to RM12.68 and IOI Corp three sen to RM4.99 but Sime Darby shed one sen to RM9.38.

BAT was the top gainer, rising 54 sen to RM63 after reported net profit of RM204.20mil in the first quarter ended March 31, 2013, up 5% from RM194.51mil a year ago. It rewarded shareholders with a dividend of 68 sen a share.

Another consumer stocks which rose was Nestle, up 26 sen to RM62.06.

DanaInfra ETBS rose 38 sen to RM101.98; Genting Bhd eight sen to RM10.08 and UMW 10 sen to RM13.50.

Among the banks, BIMB gained nine sen to RM3.59, AMMB and RHB Cap rose four sen each to RM6.56 and RM8.39 but HLFG shed two sen to RM14.98.

MISC fell six sen to RM4.48 as sentiment was cautious after Petroliam Nasional (Petronas) failed in its takeover bid.

The ringgit was quoted at 3.0518 to the US dollar, from 3.0507 the previous close.

US light crude oil rose 45 cents to US$89.63 and Brent 26 cents to US$100.57.

Spot gold added US$14.55 to US$1,427.55.

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