KLCI down 13.62 points as Middle East tension takes its toll on world equities

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KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 6): The FBM KLCI fell 13.62 points or 0.85% to close at 1,597.76 today, as the US' recent air strike in Iraq dented global equity investor sentiment. Prices of commodities including gold and crude oil however, rose again amid such heightened Middle East geopolitical tension.

At Bursa Malaysia today, the KLCI closed down at 1,597.76 at 5pm, after broad-based selling across Bursa Malaysia where the energy and REIT indices were the only gainers among the bourse's indices.

Amidst other decliners, the FBM Small Cap index closed down 120.04 points or 0.84% at 14,158.27.

The energy index, which tracks oil and gas-related shares, ended up 27.13 points or 2.15% at 1,291.25, after crude oil prices rose past US$70 a barrel, amid heightened Middle East geopolitical tension.

The energy index rose to its record high earlier today at 1,300.83 since its inception in September 2018.

Today, Areca Capital Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Danny Wong Teck Meng said the KLCI's decline is the result of investor concerns that the recent US drone strike that killed top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani on Friday, "will trigger a war in the Middle East".

Across Bursa today, 3.4 billion shares worth RM1.64 billion were traded. There were 269 gainers versus 646 decliners. Top decliners included Maxis Bhd, PPB Group Bhd and Tenaga Nasional Bhd.

Oil and gas-related stocks emerged among top gainers and leading active stocks.
 
Top gainers included Hengyuan Refining Co Bhd and Petron Malaysia Refining & Marketing Bhd, while leading active stocks including Alam Maritim Bhd and Hibiscus Petroleum Bhd.

Wong said the energy index’s rise was on account of higher crude oil prices, which are expected to benefit downstream oil and gas (O&G) players and upstream O&G service providers.

Globally, Reuters reported tensions in the Middle East after the killing of the top Iranian general by the US, pushed an index of Asian shares off an 18-month high on Monday, as investors pushed safe-haven gold near a seven-year high, and oil jumped to four-month peaks.

It was reported that the US detected a heightened state of alert by Iran's missile forces, as President Donald Trump warned that the US would strike back, "perhaps in a disproportionate manner", if Iran attacked any American person or target.

"Spot gold gained 1.6% to US$1,579.55 per ounce in jittery trade to reach its highest since April 2013. Oil prices extended gains on fears any Middle East conflict could disrupt global supplies. Brent crude futures rose US$1.90 to US$70.50 a barrel, while US crude climbed US$1.50 to US$64.57," Reuters reported.