FBM KLCI slips to nine-year low amid mounting Wuhan virus concerns

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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 3): The FBM KLCI today extended its losses for the 10th consecutive trading day in tandem with the regional bourses as investors have turned cautious while assessing the possible impacts of the Wuhan virus outbreak.

Dealers do not foresee any strong recovery in the near term until there are signs of certainty in containing the spread of the Wuhan virus that has reached over 20 countries currently.

The benchmark index, which has been in the negative zone throughout the entire trading day, fell 9.11 points or 0.6% to close at 1,521.95 points — the lowest level since January 2011. It hit a low of 1,517.61 points today. Year to date, the KLCI has shed 4.83%.

In China, the Shanghai Composite Index declined 7.72%, and an estimated US$370 billion of market capitalisation has evaporated after the panic selldown on the first trading day after the Lunar New Year break.

On Bursa Malaysia, losers outnumbered gainers by 738 to 281, while 327 counters remained unchanged. Trading volume stood at 3.98 billion shares, worth RM2.85 billion.

AirAsia Group Bhd hogged the limelight. The stock succumbed to heavy selldown following the news that broke over the weekend, on the bribery and corruption allegations against two executives in the low-cost carrier and its sister airline AirAsia X Bhd.

AirAsia Group skidded 10.5% or 15 sen to RM1.28 today, with 57.67 million shares changing hands. AirAsia X dropped one sen to an all-time low of 12 sen today.

TA Securities Holdings Bhd senior technical analyst Stephen Soo noted that the selling pressure has yet to ease, no thanks to concerns brought by the rising death toll on Wuhan virus outbreak.

"The stocks may be trying to bottom out, but it's still too early to tell. Even recent gainers, especially those in the sectors that benefit from the coronavirus have seen some profit taking," Soo told theedgemarkets.com, adding that consumer stocks are also down.

In terms of performance, blue chips are likely to be under selling pressure for a while, said Soo. However, he expects some bargain hunting to emerge among the lower liners.

Noting that more significant buying is yet to return in the local market, Soo said should there be further weakness or a sharp correction in the US Dow Jones, he foresees a spillover into the Asian region.

Among the 30 component stocks, the top losers are Hap Seng Consolidated Bhd, which slid 23 sen or 2.36% to close at RM9.50 today, followed by Axiata Group Bhd, which fell 10 sen or 2.33% to close at RM4.20.

Elsewhere, Japan's Nikkei 225 dropped 1.01%, and South Korea's Kospi fell 0.01%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 0.17%.

Reuters reported that Asian shares were dragged to near two-month lows on Monday by Chinese markets, which plunged on their first trading day after a long break on fears the coronavirus epidemic would hit demand in the world's second-largest economy.

Aiming to head off any panic, the Chinese government took steps to shore up an economy hit by travel curbs and business shut-downs because of the virus, added the newswire.

"While China's losses were heavy, they were mostly a product of selling pressure that had built up over the Lunar New Year break, not a reflection of new market fears. In contrast, futures for the US and European shares inched up, oil pared early losses while safe havens Japanese yen and gold stepped back from recent highs," Reuters wrote.