KLCI falls 1.04% as US-China spat stymies regional markets

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KUALA LUMPUR (July 24): The FBM KLCI fell 1.04% at the midday break today as tensions escalated between the US and China with the latter ordering the US to close its consulate in Chengdu in a tit-for-tat move.

At 12.30pm, the FBM KLCI lost 16.7 points to 1,589.72.

Market breadth was negative with losers leading gainers by 480 to 225, while 635 counters traded unchanged. Trading volume was 5.85 billion shares valued at RM3.09 billion.

The top losers included Petronas Dagangan Bhd, Nestle (M) Bhd, Dutch Lady Milk Industries Bhd, Pharmaniaga Bhd, Supermax Corp Bhd, PPB Group Bhd, Carlsberg Brewery Malaysia Bhd, Petronas Chemicals Group Bhd, Duopharma Biotech Bhd and Kotra Industries Bhd.

The actively traded stocks included Nexgram Holdings Bhd, Bioaplha Holdings Bhd, Dagang NeXchange Bhd, Eduspec Holdings Bhd, Vivocom International Holdings Bhd, Careplus Group Bhd and Aemulus Holdings Bhd.

The gainers included British American Tobacco (Malaysia) Bhd, Malaysian Pacific Industries Bhd, BLD Plantation Bhd, Scientex Bhd, ViTrox Corp Bhd and Panasonic Manufacturing Malaysia Bhd.

Bloomberg reported that China ordered the US to close its consulate in the southern Chinese city of Chengdu, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement today, after the American government forced China to leave its mission in Houston earlier this week.

Meanwhile, Reuters said Asian shares slipped from six-month peak today as Sino-US tensions soured in what had been an upbeat week, while the euro held a 21-month top against an embattled dollar and gold neared a record high.

For once, currencies dominated trading as a deal on a European Union recovery plan shot the euro to its highest since late 2018. The single currency was last standing tall at US$1.1611, having climbed 1.6% for the week so far, it said.

JF Apex Securities Research said US markets declined overnight following disappointing unemployment data and corporate earnings.

It said that earlier, European stocks ended mixed amid rising tension between the US and China as well as quarterly result announcements.

"On the local market, the FBM KLCI surged 19.44 points to 1606.42 points.

"Following the lacklustre performances in the US and Europe, the FBM KLCI could remain sideways below the resistance of 1615 points," it said.