KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 12): The FBM KLCI erased losses to gain 2.64 points or 0.15% on bargain hunting.
At 5pm, the KLCI closed at 1,735.08 points. The index had earlier fallen to an intra-day low of 1718.76
"Plantation stocks might see some increased activity since palm oil prices are expected to increase in the short term.
"But concerns over oil prices and the ringgit weakness will continue to weigh on the market. I expect the oil price trend to continue downward at least for the first quarter, but it will probably find support at US$40 - $42 per barrel," Jupiter Securities chief market strategist Benny Lee told theedgemarkets.com
Earlier, Reuters reported global oil prices extended their slide today, weighed by weakening demand in Europe and Asia, while refineries in Philadelphia and Ohio were hit hard by fires over the weekend, curtailing demand for crude in the U.S.
Both Brent and U.S. crude are at their lowest since April 2009 and have ended down for the past seven straight weeks. U.S. crude oil futures for February fell 78 cents to $47.58 per barrel, while the February Brent contract was down 93 cents at $49.18 a barrel.
At the time of writing, the ringgit was traded at 3.5670 against the US dollar
On the flip side, the weaker ringgit has been beneficial to IT and export-based counters. These included JCY International Bhd, IFCA MSC Bhd, Kossan Rubber Industries Bhd and Supermax Corp Bhd, which posted gains today.
Across Bursa Malaysia, a total of 1.36 billion shares were traded for a total value of RM1.46 billion.
The were 317 decliners and 394 gainers, while 286 counters remained unchanged.
The top gainers included British American Tobacco (M) Bhd, Perak Corp Bhd and Integrax Bhd.
Leading decliners included Malaysia Building Society Bhd shares and warrants (MSBS-WA), Manulife Holdings Bhd and Asia File Corp Bhd.
The most active counter was IFCA MSC with some 59 million shares done.
Across the region, Hong Kong's Hang Seng ended 0.45% higher while South Korea's Kospi closed 0.19% lower.
Japan markets were closed for a holiday.