Ringgit up, stocks down in new year
PETALING JAYA: The ringgit had a good start today after it appreciated to an intraday high of 4.0175 against US dollar, the strongest level since July 2016.
However, profit taking activity sent the local stock market 14.11 points or 0.79% lower to close at 1,782.70 points after a 2.08% jump last Friday. It slumped as much as 24.81 points or 1.4% in early trade.
In line with better economic growth, rising oil prices and a possible rate hike of 25 basis points by Bank Negara this month, the local currency continued with its strength on the first day of 2018 and is just 0.44% shy from the 4.0 psychological level. The first Monetary Policy Committee meeting for the year is scheduled on Jan 25.
Most economists expect the ringgit to reach 3.90 against the greenback at the end of 2018. It appreciated 10.9% in 2017, the biggest gain since 2010.
As at 5pm today, the ringgit strengthened 0.68% to 4.02 to US dollar.
Pacific Mutual Fund Bhd CEO and executive director Teh Chi-cheun said on a broader picture basis, economic growth will remain robust, with growing consumer confidence on the back of rising wages and stable employment.
“Global economic growth projections have been revised upwards in 2017. As at October 2017, the IMF has forecasted global GDP growth in 2017 to be 3.6% compared to their forecast in the beginning of the year of 3.4%.
“2018’s growth is now expected to be 3.7% and in Pacific Mutual’s view, will likely be revised upwards. The world economy today is a bipolar one with the two largest economies in the world, the US and China that are driving growth in their respective regions which results in positive momentum throughout the world.”
Malaysia’s economy grew 5.9% in first nine months of 2017, but is expected to moderate in 2018 due to the high base effect and the moderating external demand.
Meanwhile, political uncertainty remains a big headwind for Malaysian stocks as foreign funds closely monitor the development of the upcoming 14th general election, expected to take place between March and April. Foreign buyers bought RM10.33 billion worth of stocks last year.
The FBM KLCI saw its biggest weekly gain last week since January 2016 at 2.08% closing near 1,800 points, bringing its yearly gain in 2017 to 9.4%.
MIDF Research said although the FBM KLCI lagged its regional peers mainly due to the pre-election effect, the local bourse has a high potential to track gains in its peers as fundamentals of the Malaysian market remains intact. It expects the stock market to hit 1,900 points by year end.
Hengyuan Refining Co Bhd and Petron Malaysia Refining & Marketing Bhd, which were among the top gainers last year, continued to soar today following a slight correction last Friday. Both stocks ended the day 10.18% and 2.66% higher at RM17.96 and RM13.90 respectively.
Meanwhile, the top losers were led by Nestle (Malaysia) Bhd, British American Tobacco (Malaysia) Bhd and Dutch Lady Milk Industries Bhd, which declined 2.04%, 5.15% and 1.94% to RM101.10, RM37.94 and 60.80 respectively.
Source: The Sun Daily