KLCI extends loss as COVID-19 fears and economic woes overshadow ECB stimulus promise

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KUALA LUMPUR (March 19): Malaysian stocks extended losses Thursday as prevailing negative sentiment over the rapidly spreading COVID-19 pandemic and gloomy economic outlook overshadowed the promise of stimulus from the European Central Bank.

At 9.10am, the FBM KLCI fell 6.44 points to 1,232.57.

Sentiment was tepid with losers leading gainers by 305 to 94. Volume was 214.84 million shares valued at RM95.76 million.

Among the early losers were index-linked Petronas Chemicals Group Bhd and Hong Leong Financial Group Bhd, as well as Nestle (M) Bhd, Aeon Crdeit Service (M) Bhd, LPI Capital Bhd, Dutch Lady Milk Industries Bhd, Hong Leong Industries Bhd and Carlsberg Brewery Malaysia Bhd.

Reuters said Asian stocks struggled to find their footing in volatile trade on Thursday, as the latest promise of stimulus from the European Central Bank propped up sentiment while the world struggles to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. stock futures turned positive and rose nearly 2% after the ECB announced a bond-buying programme. Japan's Nikkei opened 1.4% higher.JF Apex Securities Research said US markets plunged about 5% overnight as concerns over the coronavirus continue to drag the market, it said.

It said that earlier, European stocks tanked 4% despite governments pledging billions of dollars of stimulus.

“On the local market, the FBM KLCI plunged 17.57 points to 1239.01 points.

“Following the bearish performances in global markets, the FBM KLCI is expected to remain pressured with support at 1210 points,” it said.