Market remains cautious amid lingering concern on US interest rate hike

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KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 9): Taking cue from the weak regional sentiment, the FBM KLCI dropped 13.33 points or 0.77% at the closing bell today, to end the week at 1,708.09 points.

The fall is smaller relative to other markets in the region. Across Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 dropped 1.05%, South Korea's Kospi fell 0.31% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was down 2.39%.

The US Federal Reserve held interest rates steady on Thursday but investors did not breathe a sigh of relief simply because of the lingering concern another rate hike is possible as the American economy continues to show healthy growth, according to analysts.

The US Federal Reserve has raised interest rates three times this year and is widely expected to do so again next month, Reuters reported.

Reuters reported that Asian stocks pulled back from a one-month high on Friday as the US Federal Reserve looked set to deliver another interest rate hike next month, paring gains made earlier this week after US midterm elections triggered a global equities rally.

On Bursa Malaysia, some 1.65 billion shares, worth RM1.81 billion, changed hands. Share prices were mostly lower, with losers leading gainers by 567 to 244, while 339 counters remained unchanged.

On a weekly basis, the benchmark index was down by 5.78 points or 0.34%.

“We are seeing a renewed volatility on the FBM KLCI alongside the weakness of the regional stock markets due to the fresh concern over the potential interest hike in US after the US Federal Reserve announced a hawkish tone on the interest rate direction,” Malacca Securities Sdn Bhd senior analyst Kenneth Leong told theedgemarkets.com.

He added that the weak China’s producer price index in October, which only expanded about 3.3%, its weakest reading since March this year, had also caused the negative sentiment.

Among the KLCI components, Leong said 24 out of the 30 component stocks were weighing down on the index, which is led by the decline in MISC Bhd that snapped its seven consecutive trading days' winning streak.

Shares of MISC dipped 52 sen or 7.5% at RM6.45 today, valuing it at RM28.79 billion.