Monday 22 Apr 2024
main news image

KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 13): Banking and financial services stocks were among the top gainers on Tuesday, with several climbing to new record highs, marking a bullish start for the sector in the year of the Dragon under the Chinese lunar calendar.

Prior to the Chinese New Year celebrations, the banking stocks were dominating the gainers list due to the favourable forecast for the 2024 banking sector and recent decisions of Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and the US Federal Reserve (Fed) to maintain their key rates.

The Bursa Malaysia Financial Services Index was up 267.29 points or 1.58%, reaching its nearly five-year high of 17,148.26 points. The last time it breached the 17,000 mark was in March 2019. 

At market close, Hong Leong Bank Bhd (HLBB) was the biggest gainer on the local stock exchange, rising 2.11% or 40 sen to settle at its one-month high of RM19.36, giving the bank a market capitalisation of RM41.97 billion.

Hong Leong Financial Group Bhd, which holds a 64.2% stake in HLBB, rose 1.23% or 20 sen to RM16.48, making it one of the top gainers in Bursa. 

Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) was also among the top 20 gainers, rising 1.94% or 18 sen to its all-time high of RM9.44. At the current price, Maybank’s market capitalisation stood at RM113.85 billion.

CIMB Group Holdings Bhd also hit a new record high at RM6.34 after climbing 2.42% or 15 sen, giving the bank a market capitalisation of RM67.62 billion.

RHB Bank Bhd closed at RM5.63 after a more modest five sen or 0.9% gain, valuing the bank at a market capitalisation of RM24.13 billion.

Also pushing up the Financial Services Index was insurance provider Allianz Malaysia Bhd, which was the sixth biggest gainer of the day, rising 1.34% or 26 sen to close at RM19.66, valuing the group at RM3.50 billion.

Other gainers were reinsurance group MNRB Holdings Bhd and takaful provider Syarikat Takaful Malaysia Keluarga Bhd.

MNRB, which posted a 47% jump in its net profit for the third quarter ended Dec 31, 2023 (3QFY2024) last week, rose 5.49% or nine sen to its five-year high of RM1.73 for a market capitalisation of RM1.33 billion. Syarikat Takaful climbed 2.11% or eight sen to close at RM3.87, valuing it at RM3.24 billion.

On Jan 24, BNM decided to maintain the overnight policy rate at 3% after its first Monetary Policy Committee meeting of the year — the fourth consecutive time it has decided to keep the rate level since July 2023. Economists have projected that the key rate would be be kept intact for the rest of the year.

Following that, the Fed also opted to keep rates steady at a 23-year high of 5.25%-5.50% after its first two-day meeting of 2024.

However, policymakers at the US central bank have previously signalled they expect to cut rates at least three times this year, although the Fed chair Jerome Powell pushed back strongly against the idea that it could start reducing rates as early as March.

Edited BySurin Murugiah
      Text Size