FBM KLCI down as markets trim US rate cut forecast

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KUALA LUMPUR (July 8): The FBM KLCI closed 4.89 points or 0.29% lower today at 1,677.64, after news on strong US jobs data trimmed market expectation on the pace of US interest rate cuts. Such sentiment hit markets across Asia.

US rate cuts are seen boding well for Asian markets, in anticipation fund managers will shift their money into higher-yielding Asian assets like currencies, stocks and bonds. But anticipation of a smaller-than-expected US rate cut tempers such positive sentiment.

Malacca Securities Sdn Bhd senior analyst Kenneth Leong told theedgemarkets.com that the KLCI dropped today, in tandem with the fall across Asian stock markets.

Leong noted weaker regional sentiment weighed on the KLCI down today, amid "factors, including the Japan-South Korea trade spat and Hong Kong protest".

The KLCI cut losses at 1,677.64 at the 5pm market close, after falling to its intraday low at 1,672.88.  

Globally, Japan's Nikkei 225 closed down 0.98%, while South Korea's Kospi sank 2.2%. In China, the Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite declined 2.58%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dipped 1.54%.
Reuters reported Asian shares were a sea of red on Monday, after strong US job gains tempered expectations that the Federal Reserve will deliver a large rate cut, while the Turkish lira hovered near two-week lows, on worries about central bank independence. It was reported share sentiment was also dampened by US investment bank Morgan Stanley's decision to reduce its exposure to global equities, due to misgivings about the ability of policy easings to offset weaker economic data.

According to Reuters, since the start of the year, global equities have generally been bolstered by expectations that central banks will keep interest rates at or near record lows to boost economic growth. It was reported that those expectations were tempered by the US labour report on Friday that showed non-farm payrolls jumped 224,000 in June, beating forecasts for 160,000, in a sign that the world's largest economy still had fire.

"Given the strength shown in that data, investors now expect U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell to go slow on rate cuts this year. Bets for aggressive Fed easings are already off, with the market now pricing a 27 basis points easing this month, from 33 basis points prior to payrolls," Reuters reported.

Across Bursa Malaysia today, top gainer was KLCI component Tenaga Nasional Bhd, while the most active stock was Ekovest Bhd, which registered  a volume of some 163 million shares.

Ekovest closed down 6.5 sen or 7.47% at 80.5 sen today. Tenaga ended up 22 sen or 1.62% at RM13.82.