KLCI falls 10.47pts after Trump's key adviser resigned

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KUALA LUMPUR (March 7): The FBM KLCI fell 10.47 points or 0.6% with Asian markets after the US's White House economic adviser Gary Cohn resigned. Cohn's resignation led to fears that US President Donald Trump will proceed with the nation's planned steel and aluminium import tax plans.

Such sentiment led to anticipation of a global trade conflict. At Bursa Malaysia, the KLCI closed at 1,837.90 points.

Across Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 closed down 0.77%, South Korea's Kospi fell 0.4% while Hong Kong's Hang Seng ended 1.03% lower.

In Malaysia, Inter-Pacific Securities Sdn Bhd head of research Pong Teng Siew told theedgemarkets.com: "The market has been down all day. All of Asia's stocks fell mainly due to news on the resignation of Trump's adviser. There was some hope that Trump's tariff plans would not be true but then news on this (the resignation) has further shaken up the market."

Reuters reported that Cohn is seen as a bulwark against protectionist forces within the Trump administration. Global stocks and the US dollar slumped on Wednesday after the strong White House advocate for free trade resigned, fanning fears that Trump will proceed with protectionist tariffs and risk a trade war.

It was also reported that crude oil prices fell on Wednesday, pulled down by declining stock markets after Cohn resigned. Soaring US crude oil production and rising inventories also dragged on crude prices. Brent futures were down 53 US cents, or 0.8%, from their previous close to US$65.26 per barrel at 0747 GMT.

The impact of crude oil's price drop was apparent on Malaysian shares. Bursa Malaysia top decliners include Hengyuan Refining Co Bhd and Petronas Dagangan Bhd.

The most-active stock was Sapura Energy Bhd with some 104 million shares traded. Sapura Energy's shares fell 4.5 sen to 51 sen.