KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 30): The FBM KLCI slipped 1.58 points or 0.09% today as Brent crude oil prices hit a five and a half year low of nearly US$57 per barrel, while the ringgit hit a near five year low of 3.5027 to the dollar.
The benchmark index settled at 1766.83 points at 5pm today, after 1.63 billion shares valued at RM1.61 billion were traded.
There were 382 gainers against 402 decliners, while 304 counters remained unchanged.
Today's top gainers included Hong Leong Capital Bhd, British American Tobacco (Malaysia) Bhd and Apex Healthcare Bhd.
Meanwhile, decliners were led by Multi-Usage Holdings Bhd, Press Metal Bhd and Aeon Co. (M) Bhd.
The most actively traded stock today was Hubline Bhd, with some 102.3 million shares changing hands.
A dealer with a local bank told theedgemarkets.com that the decline of the index is most probably related to the drop in crude oil prices, even if the magnitude of the drops are not the same.
"Oil prices has dropped about 1% overnight, but the market drop has only been 0.09%. This is most probably due to local institutional investors supporting the oil and gas counters on Bursa Malaysia," he suggested.
The fact that most fund managers are still on year end holiday could also be a contributing factor as to why the market did not react in tandem to falling oil prices, he ventured.
Regionally, Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down by 1.14%, Japan's Nikkei was 1.57% lower, and South Korea's Kospi was also lower by 0.64%.
According to Reuters, Brent oil fell to a fresh 5-1/2-year low of near $57 per barrel today, as persistent worries about a global supply glut offset concerns about output disruptions in Libya.
"Brent may fall more to $54.98, as it has resumed its downtrend, while U.S. oil is expected to drop to $52.10, as indicated by its wave pattern and a Fibonacci projection analysis," said Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao in a report.
According to Bloomberg, the ringgit declined 0.2 percent to 3.5027 per dollar. It has fallen 6.5% this year, the worst performance among emerging Asian currencies.
Bloomberg, quoting Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of Economic Planning Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar, said the slump in crude prices to a five-year low will probably pare economic growth in Malaysia, as a net oil exporter, to the lower end of its 5%-6% estimate for next year.