KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's blue chips were among the best performers in Friday's morning session, with the FBM KLCI up 0.41%, aided by gains in plantation heavyweight IOI Corp, BAT and Petronas Chemicals.
At 12.30pm, the FBM KLCI was up 6.48 points to 1,589.65. Turnover was 694 million shares valued at RM644.20mil. The broader market was firmer with 383 gainers, 216 losers and 334 stocks unchanged.
Among the key regional markets, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 0.73% to 21,094.13, South Korea's Kospi 0.42% lower at 1,986.81 and Singapore's Straits Times Index slipped 0.23% to 2,994.
But Shanghai's Composite Index edged up 0.1% to 2,442.56 and Taiwan's Taiex 0.47% to 7,695.22.
US light crude oil WTI rose 13 cents to US$102.67 and Brent 11 cents to US$116.19. Gold spot fell US$1.55 to US$1,634.5 per ounce. Crude palm oil futures for third month delivery rose RM15 to RM3,392. The ringgit weakened to 3.0378 against the US dollar.
Buying interest by funds had perked up, with AirAsia among the most actively traded following the fresh newsflow, but most retail investors were staying on the sidelines, dealers said.
Among the index-linked stocks, IOI rose eight sen to RM5.32, pushing the KLCI up 1.21 points. BAT added RM1.74 to RM56.98, adding 0.78 of a point while Petronas Chemical's five sen gain to RM6.60 nudged the index up by 0.5 of a point.
AirAsia rose to an intra-morning high of RM3.76, its highest since Feb 10, before ending the morning session seven sen higher at RM3.67. Its call warrants, AirAsia-CP and CO added 0.5 sen each to 7.5 sen and six sen.
Maybulk notched up 14 sen to close the morning at RM1.79. Maybulk-CC added six sen to 16.5 sen and Maybulk-CE two sen to seven sen/
Dutch Lady was the top loser, down 36 sen to RM33.04 while Takaful fell 14 sen to RM4.11. Other decliners were Knusford, down 30 sen to RM1.98 and SAB 21 sen to RM2.21.