KLCI erases gains to intraday low on weaker ringgit, oil

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KUALA LUMPUR (Mar 10): The FBM KLCI erased gains at the final minutes of trading as the ringgit and crude oil prices weakened amid a surging US dollar.

The KLCI fell 2.01 points or 0.11% to settle at its intraday low of 1,789.73. The index had earlier reached an intraday high of 1,799.05 as investors bargain hunted for beaten-down stocks after yesterday's 15.22-point decline.

Today, the ringgit weakened to 3.7040 against a US dollar buoyed by anticipation that US interest rates may rise earlier than expected.

Reuters reported that Brent crude oil fell 52 cents to US$58.01 a barrel by 0817 GMT, while U.S. crude dropped 34 cents to US$49.66. Brent crude fell towards $58 a barrel on Tuesday as the dollar scaled multi-year highs, but data showing a recovery in China's annual consumer inflation checked losses.

The greenback hit an eight-year high versus the yen and scaled a near 12-year peak against the euro, dragging on commodities priced in the dollar by making them expensive for holders of other currencies.

“The KLCI staged a slight rebound today after falling for the past few days, as concerns surrounding an interest rate hike by the US had eased,” said Lee Cherng Wee, an analyst with JF Apex Securities Bhd.

Lee said the KLCI's support was seen at around the 1,780 level.

Bursa Malaysia saw 2.53 billion shares worth RM2.32 billion exchanged. Gainers edged decliners at 457 versus 350 while 338 counters were unchanged.

Leading the gainers were Tasek Corp Bhd warrants (TASEK-PA) while British American Tobacco (M) Bhd led decliners. The most active stock was XingHe Holdings Bhd.

Across the region, Japan’s Nikkei fell 0.67% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng decreased 0.94%.

Reuters said the U.S. dollar scored multi-year highs against the euro and yen in Asia on Tuesday amid starkly diverging outlooks for interest rates globally, while currencies from emerging markets came under mounting pressure from risk aversion.