KLCI dips 15.26 points as China, Japan data hit Asian shares

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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 28): The FBM KLCI fell 15.26 points or 0.8% with Asian shares as investors responded to weaker China and Japan manufacturing data amid anticipation of speedier US interest rate hikes. At 5pm, the KLCI closed at 1,856.20.

Across Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 1.44%. In China, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 1.36% while the Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite was 0.99% lower.

Reuters reported that China's official Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) released on Wednesday fell to 50.3 in February, from 51.3 in January. But it remained just above the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis. In Japan, trade ministry data out on Wednesday showed factory output fell 6.6 percent in January from the previous month.

It was also reported that most emerging Asian currencies fell on Wednesday, while the dollar held firm near a three-week high after US Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell struck a hawkish tone in his Congressional testimony.

At Bursa Malaysia, the KLCI dropped as plantation stocks fell. Bursa Malaysia's plantation index declined 84.66 points or    1.05% to 7,991.47. Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd and PPB Group Bhd were among Bursa Malaysia top decliners.

Today also marks the conclusion of Malaysia's corporate financial reporting season for the October-to-December 2017 quarter. Rakuten Trade research vice president Vincent Lau said despite profit growth announced by key KLCI constituents, the broader picture failed to impress.

“It is a mixed bag, [the overall results] were not that great,” Lau told theedgemarkets.com.