At the FBM KLCI was up 8.82 points or 0.48% to 1,845.86. Turnover fell below three billion shares to 2.96 billion units valued at RM2.84bil. There were 468 gainers, 515 losers and 410 counters unchanged.
The ringgit rose 0.42% to 3.8953 to the US dollar – best since April 2, 2016 but off the earlier high of 3.8890 when Bank Negara announced the overnight policy rate would be increased by quarter of a point to 3.25%.
It gained 0.05% to the Singapore dollar to 2.9810 but fell 0.69% to the pound sterling and was flat versus the euro at 4.8306.
Bank Negara said the latest indicators reaffirm the strength in exports and domestic activity.
“Looking ahead, the strong growth momentum is expected to continue in 2018, sustained by the stronger global growth and positive spillovers from the external sector to the domestic economy,” it said.
On the external front, China stocks weakened from two-year highs on Thursday, with the benchmark Shanghai index snapping a seven-session winning streak, led down by property and healthcare firms, as investors pocketed gains after recent strong rally.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng benchmark fell the most in a month, as some investors took profit after a seven-day winning streak.
At Bursa Malaysia, Public Bank rose to an all-time high of RM21.20, up 24 sen and pushed the KLCI up 1.65 points.
Maybank rose nine sen to RM10 and pushed the KLCI up 1.72 points while CIMB added seven sen to RM7.02 and nudged the index up 1.14 points. Hong Leong Bank added 14 sen to RM18.14, RHB Bank six sen to RM5.40 and AmBank five sen to RM4.80. HLFG rose 28 sen to RM18.08.
Consumer stocks also attracted strong interest, especially Nestle, which is part of the KLCI. It rose RM1 to RM107.50, F&N added 26 sen to RM28.40, BAT 18 sen to RM33.34 and Carlsberg 12 sen to RM15.92.
As for telcos, Axiata added five sen to RM5.61, Digi four sen to RM4.95, Maxis edged up one sen to RM6.06 but Telekom shed one sen to RM6.
Genting Bhd lost seven sen to RM9.59 and Genting Malaysia two sen to RM6 while MISC gained three sen to RM7.52. Tenaga rose two sen to RM15.86.
Brent oil prices hit US$71 per barrel on Thursday for the first time since 2014 as the dollar continued to weaken and crude inventories in the US fell for a 10th straight week, amid ongoing supply cutbacks by OPEC and top producer Russia.
US light crude oil rose 52 cents to US$66.13 and Brent 32 cents to US$70.85. Petronas Chemical was flat at RM8, Petronas Dagangan added two sen to RM24.82 and Petronas Gas 10 sen to RM17.80.
George Kent rallied 23 sen to RM4.09 as analysts were upbeat about its prospects and Sunway Construction added 11 sen to RM2.59.
Zhulian fell 28 sen to RM1.81 on weaker financial results.