AirAsia descends on weaker ringgit, profit-taking

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KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 20): AirAsia Bhd fell as much as seven sen or 3% on profit-taking and as a weaker ringgit versus the US dollar led to expectation of costlier jet fuel and foreign selling of the budget airline's shares.

AirAsia shares fell to their lowest so far today at RM2.39. At 12:30pm, the stock settled at RM2.40 with some 13 million shares traded.

AirAsia was the ninth most-active stock on Bursa Malaysia. At RM2.40, the company has a market value of RM6.67 billion.

Year to date, AirAsia shares have gained 86%, significantly outperforming the FBM KLCI's 3% fall.

In currency markets today, the ringgit weakened to 4.4798 against the US dollar at 12:37pm on US interest rate hike expectation. The ringgit had earlier depreciated to its weakest level so far today at 4.4805.

As AirAsia buys jet fuel in US dollars, a weaker ringgit translates into costlier fuel for the airline.

Analysts are also mindful of AirAsia's high foreign shareholding. TA Securities Holdings Bhd analyst Tan Kam Meng wrote in a note that "AirAsia's high foreign shareholding at 56.67% as at November 2016 is prone to ringgit weakness."

Inter-Pacific Securities Sdn Bhd remisier Sam Ng told that AirAsia shares had seen profit-taking after recent gains.

On Nov 30 this year, AirAsia shares had closed at RM2.76 before profit-taking took the stock to current prices.

"The share deal last week is at its highest of RM2.57 for selling and now it is at RM2.40," Ng said.