Malaysian stocks close lower in tandem with global market pullback

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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 22): Malaysian stocks closed lower today in tandem with a pullback in most global equity markets as the US Federal Reserve (Fed) is widely expected to raise interest rates next month.

The FBM KLCI fell 3.1 points or 0.17% to close at 1,855.07 today. Trading volume increased to 2.34 billion shares worth RM2.06 billion compared with yesterday's 2.28 billion shares worth RM2.53 billion.

"Any rate hike is not good for equities," Public Investment Bank Bhd head of research Ching Weng Jin told theedgemarkets.com.

He said local investors went back to track global trends as many companies have yet to release their fourth quarter financial results, seeing no significant push in market volume during this results season.

"The results that have been announced so far were actually quite positive, but surprisingly there are still companies that have yet to release their results with about four trading days left in the month," Ching added.

Gainers marginally trailed losers by 411 against 413, while 515 counters closed unchanged. Actively traded stocks include AirAsia X Bhd, PDZ Holdings Bhd, DGB Asia Bhd, Sapura Energy Bhd and PUC Bhd.

Regionally, the Singapore's Straits Times Index closed 0.79% lower, while Japan's Nikkei 225 index lost 1.07%. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Composite Index fell 57.53 points or 1.32%, closing at 4,290.23 points.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had ended Wednesday down 0.67%, while the S&P 500 index fell 0.55%.

Reuters reported the retreat in the benchmark indexes was because investors narrowed the odds on faster rate hikes following the Fed's minutes that showed the strengthening of economic outlook in the near term has increased the likelihood that a gradual upward trajectory of the federal funds rate would be appropriate.