KLCI falls, ringgit weakens ahead of Bank Negara reserve announcement

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KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 4): The FBM KLCI declined 6.5 points or 0.4% as the ringgit depreciated ahead of Bank Negara Malaysia's announcement today on its international reserves.

Malaysian shares also tracked Asian equity losses as investors eyed the US' crucial employment data, which will offer clues on the timing of interest rate hikes there.

In Malaysia, the KLCI settled at 1,596.25 points at 12:30pm, after dipping to an intraday low of 1,595.15. The index was dragged down by stocks such as Genting Bhd and CIMB Group Holdings Bhd.

Across Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 declined 2.41%, while South Korea's Kospi was 1.48% lower.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng, which resumed trading today, fell 0.25%, while Shanghai Composite extended its break. China markets were closed for holiday yesterday (Sept 3).

Bursa Malaysia saw 355 decliners and 252 advancers. A total of 1.04 billion shares, valued RM644.09 million, were traded.

Dutch Lady Milk Industries Bhd was the top gainer, while Genting Plantation Bhd warrants occupied the top decliner spot. The most actively-traded stock was IFCA MSC Bhd.

According to Hong Leong Investment Bank Bhd, share trading sentiment is likely to remain wary, ahead of the crucial US jobs data tonight.

"We believe the recent relief rally from a 3-year low of 1,504 points on Aug 24, is ripe for profit taking consolidation," Hong Leong said in a report today.
 
The ringgit is also closely watched, as investors looked forward to Bank Negara's global reserves update. The data will offer clues on how much ammunition the central bank has, to support the ringgit against external and domestic factors.

At about 1pm, the ringgit weakened to 4.2625 against the US dollar. Compared to the Singapore dollar, the ringgit had again breached the 3.0000 level against the Singapore dollar at 3.0062.