The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index rose 23.28 to close at 990.74, the biggest gain since April 10, with gainers outnumbering losers 535 to 131.
The measure jumped 14 per cent this month, the best monthly gain since April 30, 1999. Seven stocks climbed for each one that fell on the 100-member gauge.
The stock index added 1.2 per cent this week, the seventh weekly advance. The market will be shut tomorrow for a public holiday. May index futures, the most active contract today, rose 2.1 percent to 993.50.
In the market, 1.6 billion shares changed hands, more than double the three-month daily average of 662 million shares.
According to dealers, the market started the day on a strong note as investors took the cue from the overnight gain on Wall Street.
They said that persistent buying of major plantation, energy and banking stocks helped the key index to stay in positive territory throughout the day.
"What excited the market was the upbeat note by Bank Negara Malaysia on the domestic economy in the second half of the year, coupled with the strong performance on Wall Street," one of the dealers said.
“The Federal Reserve’s confirmation that the recession in the US is starting to ease, following the positive impact from its 1.5 trillion dollar stimulus package, helped to boost sentiment,” another dealer told Dow Jones Newswires.
Bumiputra-Commerce Holdings Bhd led banks higher after central bank data late yesterday showed loan applications in the country rose 4.7 per cent in March, the second monthly gain. Bumiputra-Commerce, Malaysia’s second biggest bank, added 1.9 per cent to RM8.05. AMMB Holdings Bhd jumped 5.7 per cent to RM3.14, the biggest advance since Nov. 3, 2008. Hong Leong Bank Bhd gained 2.7 per cent to RM5.75, the most since April 14.
IOI Corp, Malaysia’s second- biggest palm oil producer, rose 4.9 per cent to RM4.30, the steepest gain since January 5. Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd added 2.7 per cent to RM11.60, and Sime Darby Bhd climbed 3.1 per cent to RM6.60. Palm oil prices advanced as much as 4.6 per cent to RM2,595 a metric ton in Kuala Lumpur, extending yesterday’s 1 per cent gain.
Lafarge Malayan Cement Bhd rose 1.8 per cent to RM4.52, the most since April 13. Malaysia’s biggest cement maker had its stock rating raised to “buy” from “hold” at Kim Eng Research Sdn Bhd, which upgraded the company’s 2010 earnings estimates by 26 per cent to account for lower taxes and higher demand.
SP Setia Bhd led property stocks higher after central bank data showed loans approved for the purchase of properties jumped 49 per cent in March from a month ago. SP Setia, Malaysia’s largest developer, jumped 12 per cent to RM3.54, the biggest gain since September 7, 1998. Sunway City Bhd advanced 5 per cent to RM2.11, the most since April 23.
Sapuracrest Petroleum Bhd led gains by Malaysian oil and gas services providers after crude oil climbed for a second day, boosting the prospects for exploration-related contracts. Sapuracrest surged 9.5 per cent to RM1.15, the highest close since October 7. KNM Group Bhd rose 7.5 per cent to 57.5 sen. Crude oil rose as much as 1.9 per cent as a surge in equity markets increased optimism that the global economy and fuel demand will recover soon.
PPB Group Bhd climbed 2.9 per cent to RM10.60, the biggest gain since January 5. The Malaysian sugar producer sold all of its 8.4 per cent stake in Redtone International Bhd for RM7.1 million. The company’s unit, Hexarich Sdn Bhd, sold 32.4 million shares in Redtone at 22 sen each, PPB said in a statement.
Redtone International Bhd surged 11 per cent to 24.5 sen, extending yesterday’s 7.3 per cent gain. Redtone Group chief executive officer Zainal Amanshah bought 14 per cent of the Malaysian telecommunications company, a stock exchange filing showed. Zainal, through Indah Pusaka Sdn Bhd, bought 53.6 million shares, matching the stake that was traded off-market yesterday at 22 sen each.
Dealers expect the key index to trade between 980 and 1,050 points next week. - Agencies