FBM KLCI down after US Treasury yields rise; Press Metal up

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KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 4): The FBM KLCI closed down 6.19 points or 0.34% as higher US government bond or Treasury yields at above 3% hit Asian financial markets.

At Bursa Malaysia, the KLCI closed at 1,790.11 points at 5pm. Across Asian stock markets, Japan's Nikkei 225 dropped 0.56%, South Korea's Kospi fell 1.52% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was down 1.73%.  

US Treasury yields rose after news reports quoted the US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell as saying that while US interest rates are still accommodative, interest rates there may go past the neutral level.

US interest rate hike expectation also took cue from US economic data including the Institute for Supply Management's report, which showed services sector activity hit a 21-year high in September.

In Malaysia, Rakuten Trade Sdn Bhd vice president Vincent Lau told theedgemarkets.com: “Investors are concerned about the bond yields. The 10-year Treasury yield has gone up and also the US Fed comments that they may raise interest rate above the neutral level.”

“For the KLCI, we are also not spared from the regional weakness.”

Asian financial markets contended with a strengthening US dollar. Reuters reported that the dollar scored an 11-month top on the yen on Thursday as stunningly strong US economic data drove Treasury yields to their highest since May 2011, while Asian stocks were sideswiped by rising borrowing costs at home.

It was reported that bond prices fell across Asia and long-term Japanese yields reached ground not visited since early 2016, a market tightening not warranted by domestic economic conditions. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan skidded 1.7 percent in response, with South Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia and Taiwan all down.

Across Bursa Malaysia, 2.06 billion shares worth RM2.46 billion were traded. Top gainers included KLCI-linked Press Metal Aluminium Holdings Bhd.

Press Metal shares rose 20 sen to close at RM5.16 amid supply worries as closure of the world's largest alumina refinery run by Norsk Hydro in Brazil pushed aluminium prices up to their highest in about three months.