Dealers also said the ringgit’s rise against the dollar acted as a catalyst, attracting a fresh inflow of foreign portfolio funds, a dealer with a bank-backed brokerage said.
The ringgit was at 3.4780 in late trade from Wednesday’s close at 3.5280.
Dealers also said interest was largely seen in plantation stocks as the weaker US dollar has spurred sales of crude palm oil, thus boosting earnings.
The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index rose 18 points to 880.50, its highest close since November 18.
Just eight stocks slid on the 100-member measure.
The gauge has fallen 39 per cent this year and is set for its steepest annual decline since 1997, when it slumped 52 per cent.
About 503 million shares changed hands in the market, lower than the three-month daily average of 572 million shares. December index futures jumped 2.3 per cent to 890.50.
Sime Darby Bhd, Malaysia’s biggest palm-oil producer, added 15 sen, or 2.7 per cent, to RM5.65, its highest close since November 28, amid speculation palm oil prices will rebound as demand recovers and a weaker dollar raises the appeal of commodities as a hedge against inflation.
IOI Corp jumped 32 sen, or 9.7 per cent, to RM3.62, the second largest gain on the Composite Index.
“A commodities price recovery will be the theme for 2009: When demand recovers, you will again see another move up in prices,” said David Ng, who manages US$1.6 billion of assets as chief investment officer at Hwang-DBS Investment Management Bhd.
“The US dollar is quite highly correlated with commodities prices. Over the past week, we have seen the dollar weaken and correspondingly, we have also seen commodities prices strengthen.”
Malaysian Airline System Bhd surged 262 sen, or 9.4 per cent, to RM3.04, the most since October 2, 2007, on speculation the company will benefit from lower fuel costs as crude oil traded near its lowest in more than four years. AirAsia Bhd, Southeast Asia’s largest budget carrier, climbed 4 sen, or 4.7 per cent, to 89.5 sen.
KNM Group Bhd added 2 sen, or 4.9 per cent, to 42.5 sen, its steepest gain in more than a week. The Employees Provident Fund bought 3 million shares in the oil and gas services provider, lifting its stake to 7.9 per cent, a stock exchange filing showed. Malaysia’s largest pension fund bought the shares on December 11, it said.
Resorts World Bhd climbed 5 sen, or 2.3 per cent, to RM2.22, the highest in more than a week. The casino operator said it completed its US$69 million acquisition of a 10 per cent stake in a gaming patent developer.
TM International Bhd added 8 sen, or 2.3 per cent, to RM3.62, its highest level since December 1.
MESDAQ debutante Fibon failed to impress, declining 5.3 per cent to 80 sen as short-term investors sold off part of their pre-listing bonus share issues.
Dividend plays also faced some selling pressure with the return of risk appetite, with British American Tobacco slipping 2.8 per cent to RM43.75 and Carlsberg shedding 1.7 per cent at RM3.52.
Among the actives, KNM Group added two sen to 42.5 sen, Ramunia inched up half a sen to 35.5 sen, Resorts World added half a sen to RM2.22 and Genting topped up two sen to RM3.78.
Among the heavyweights, Tenaga Nasional gained 10 sen to RM6.10, Maybank was flat at RM5.25, MISC went up half a sen to RM8.50 and Public Bank was unchanged at RM8.45. - Agencies