KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 18): Benchmark Brent crude oil prices, which at press time was trading at low levels of US$37 per barrel compared to a peak of US$115 per barrel in mid-June 2014, did little to support the FBM KLCI, which closed the day down 12.62 points or 0.8% at 1,643.9 points.
JF Apex Research senior analyst Lee Cherng Wee said the market's reaction today was in line with US stock markets, which were in the red yesterday, as well as the low oil prices, which affects Malaysia's position as an exporter of the commodity.
"The low oil prices continue to take its toll on investor sentiment, coupled with the weak overnight performance from the US markets," he told theedgemarkets.com.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.43% yesterday, while the S&P 500 index closed down 1.5% and the Nasdaq Composite Index was down 1.35%.
According to Reuters, Wall Street dropped on Thursday as crude oil futures continued to wallow at multi-year lows against a backdrop of oversupply as well as a stronger dollar following the US Federal Reserve's widely anticipated tightening on Wednesday.
The performance of regional markets was also lacklustre. Japan's Nikkei 225 was down 1.9%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index declined 0.53%, while South Korea's KOSPI dipped 0.13%.
"Asian shares took their cue from Wall Street and slipped on Friday, and Japanese stocks slumped after briefly jumping on the central bank's statement that it would expand parts of its stimulus programme," said Reuters.
The ringgit recovered slightly to levels of 4.29 against the US dollar, from 4.313 yesterday. Against the Singapore dollar, the ringgit was trading at 3.0376, from 3.0609 yesterday.
At 5pm today, the FBM KLCI saw 1.74 billion shares traded, at a total value of RM2.16 billion. Market breadth was mixed; there were 335 gainers against 498 losing counters, while 342 counters remained unchanged.
Rounding up the day's top losers were Top Glove Corp Bhd, Lafarge Malaysia Bhd, British American Tobacco (M) Bhd and Ajinomoto (M) Bhd.
Gainers included P.I.E Industrial Bhd, Malaysian Pacific Industries Bhd and Scientex Bhd.
The most actively traded counter was Instacom Group Bhd, with 90.7 million shares traded.
(Note: The Edge Research's fundamental score reflects a company's profitability and balance sheet strength, calculated based on historical numbers. The valuation score determines if a stock is attractively valued or not, also based on historical numbers. A score of 3 suggests strong fundamentals and attractive valuations.)