KUALA LUMPUR: MIDF Research expects the benchmark FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI (FBM KLCI) to rebound to 1,830 by end-2019, supported by a recovery in corporate earnings.

Head of strategy and quantitative analytics Syed Muhammed Kifni Syed Kamaruddin said corporate earnings for 2019 are expected to grow by 5.8% as compared with 1.96% anticipated for this year.

“We also foresee that there are opportunities for investors to enter the market now, as the current composite index (CI) level is about 150 basis points lower than what we projected by end of 2019,” he told a market outlook media briefing today.

Syed Muhammed said the market price-earnings ratio valuation is also expected to improve to 16.2% from the current level of 15.8%.

With that, along with no further escalation in trade tensions between the United States and China, he said the 1,830 level target should be achievable.

However, he opined that Bursa Malaysia would be trading range-bound next year with profit-taking and performance-chasing activities taking place.

As for end-2018, he said the CI support level would be at 1,600, but it would trade higher should window dressing activities kick in.

On the ringgit, he foresees the local unit to mildly strengthen to RM4 against the US dollar by end-2019 from the current level of about RM4.18.

“This would be backed by the improvement in both crude oil and crude palm oil (CPO) prices,” he said.

He said benchmark Brent Crude was anticipated to trade higher at US$75 per barrel next year from the current level of about US$60 per barrel, following the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries agreement on a production cut, with the CPO to average at RM2,200 per tonne from the current RM1,960 per tonne.

“Subsequently, this will lead to the return of foreign funds into our markets, as we have seen outflow amounting to RM11 billion as of last week for this year,” he said.

Last year, the local equity market recorded more than RM10 billion of foreign fund inflow.

Commenting on the outlook for fund flows, head of research Mohd Redza Abdul Rahman said it would still boil down to corporate earnings.

“If the earnings are positive, share prices will follow and entice the foreign investors to come in,” he said, adding that Bursa Malaysia is still defensive compared with regional peers.

“This would help investors find shelter here amid the uncertainty,” he added.

According to MIDF Research’s statistics, the KLCI’s gains slid 6.8% between January and last Friday, while the MSCI Asia Pacific Ex-Japan Index fell 15.4% and the MSCI Emerging Markets Index retreated 16% in the same period.