Malaysian stocks close lower on profit taking

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KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 16): Malaysian stocks swung back into the red today, wiping out gains made over the last two days as investors cashed in on profits.

The benchmark FBM KLCI traded in negative territory throughout the day to close down 8.67 points or 0.48% at 1,777.27 points. Market breadth was negative with 515 losers and 290 gainers.

A total of 2.11 billion worth of shares were traded for RM1.91 billion compared with 2.4 billion shares worth RM2.03 billion on Wednesday.

According to Hong Leong Investment Bank head of retail research Loui Low, investors in index-linked counters are likely to stay in profit-taking mode amid uncertainty over Turkey's economy and the US-China trade war fears.

However, he noted that beneficiaries of the weaker ringgit, which has fallen in line with other emerging market currencies, include export-driven counters such as Unisem (M) Bhd, which has seen a slight uptick in its share price.

Although the trade war between China and the US may affect these export-driven companies in the long term, Low said they could see improvements in earnings in the near term as long as the US dollar continues to strengthen.

Advance Synergy Bhd, AHB Holdings Bhd and Nova MSC Bhd were the most actively traded counters on Bursa Malaysia today, while British American Tobacco (Malaysia) Bhd, Heineken Malaysia Bhd and Petronas Gas Bhd led decliners.

Nestle (Malaysia) Bhd, Malaysia Pacific Industries Bhd and United Plantaitions Bhd were top gainers.

Asian markets were battered to one-year lows amid growing fears over Turkey's currency crisis and an economic slowdown in China, Reuters reported.

Japan's Nikkei closed down 0.06% while MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.3%. Both Shanghai Composite Index and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index dipped 0.8%.

Another sector that witnessed a drag was technology stocks, which were pressured by the performance of Tencent Holdings Ltd after it registered its first decline in quarterly profit in almost 13 years on poor gaming revenue, Reuters said.