KLCI ends lower amid US-China spat; pharmaceutical firms hit limit up

KLCI ends lower amid US-China spat; pharmaceutical firms hit limit up
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KUALA LUMPUR (July 22): The FBM KLCI closed 8.95 points or 0.56% lower at 1,586.98 today, as world equities took cue from the US-China spat, which resulted in Hong Kong’s Hang Seng falling the most in nearly six weeks.

At Bursa Malaysia, the KLCI closed lower, partly due to index-linked glove makers’ Hartalega Holdings Bhd and Top Glove Corp Bhd's share price drop among Bursa top decliners.

In a rare development, Bursa’s top four gainers comprising pharmaceutical companies Pharmaniaga Bhd, Apex Healthcare Bhd, Kotra Industries Bhd and Duopharma Biotech Bhd saw their share prices hit limit up after closing 30% higher, as investors continued to pin their hopes on a Covid-19 vaccine to curb the pandemic.

Inter-Pacific Securities Sdn Bhd head of research Victor Wan said the KLCI slipped today as share prices of glove makers fell due to profit taking. Wan said the tension between the US and China also weighed on investor sentiment.

“But the question right now is how far can the KLCI go up still? The next thing to watch is corporate earnings,” he told theedgemarkets.com.

Across Bursa today, turnover stood at 9.37 billion shares worth RM4.89 billion. Decliners beat gainers at 557 to 510 respectively. 

Bursa top decliner Hartalega’s share price closed down 62 sen or 3.44% at RM17.38, while Top Glove fell 24 sen or 0.96% to RM24.70.

Bursa top gainer Pharmaniaga's share price closed up RM1.05 or 30% at RM4.55, Apex Healthcare rose 91 sen or 29.74% to RM3.97, Kotra climbed 82 sen or 29.82% to RM3.57 while Duopharma added 68 sen or 29.82% to RM2.96.

All four stocks’ prices ended at their intraday highs.

Most active stocks included Boustead Holdings Bhd and newly listed Ocean Vantage Holdings Bhd.

Boustead, with some 267 million shares traded, saw its share price end up 18.5 sen or 31.62% at 77 sen, possibly in tandem with Pharmaniaga amid optimism about the development of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Boustead said on its website that the group's pharmaceutical division is spearheaded by Pharmaniaga, the core businesses of which include manufacturing of generic pharmaceuticals besides logistics and distribution.

Ocean Vantage, which was listed on Bursa's ACE Market today, saw some 217 million shares traded. Ocean Vantage's share price closed up 27 sen or 103.85% at 53 sen against its issue price of 26 sen.

Globally, it was reported that Hong Kong stocks fell the most in nearly six weeks today, as signs of escalating Sino-US tensions weighed on market sentiment.

At the close of trade, the Hang Seng index was down 577.72 points, or 2.25%, at 25,057.94, its biggest fall since June 11, Reuters reported.

Bloomberg reported that the US equity futures dropped with European stocks after a diplomatic flare-up between the US and China added to concerns over the deteriorating relationship between the economic superpowers.

"Markets shifted on news that the US ordered China's Houston consulate to quickly close, which the State Department later said was to protect property and 'private information' of Americans," Bloomberg reported.