KLCI falters as investors weigh slower Malaysia economic growth

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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 12): The FBM KLCI settled down 0.38% at Bursa Malaysia's afternoon break today in an apparent response to news that Malaysia's 2019 economic growth slowed to 4.3% from 4.7% a year earlier and as global investors weighed the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak.

At 12:30pm, the KLCI reversed gains to settle 5.82 points lower at 1,545.66, its intraday low so far. The KLCI had earlier risen with Asian shares on hopes the Covid-19 outbreak has abated.

At 12 noon, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) said the Malaysian economy, as measured by gross domestic product, grew 3.6% year-on-year in 2019's fourth quarter (4Q19), driven by higher private sector spending.

In a statement today, BNM said the country's economic growth was, however, affected by supply disruptions in the commodities sector. "On a quarter-on-quarter seasonally-adjusted basis, the economy grew by 0.6% (3Q19: 0.9%). For 2019 as a whole, the economy expanded by 4.3% (2018: 4.7%).

Across Bursa, 1.63 billion shares valued at RM1.14 billion were traded. Top decliners included KLCI-linked Hong Leong Bank Bhd, Public Bank Bhd and Hong Leong Financial Group Bhd.

Top gainers included Greatech Technology Bhd, Lotte Chemical Titan Holding Bhd and Hartalega Holdings Bhd.

Globally, CNBC reported that stocks in Asia were mostly higher on Wednesday afternoon trade as concerns over the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak abated.

“From a coronavirus perspective, I think ... the concerns have probably peaked,” CNBC quoted Steve Brice, chief investment strategist at Standard Chartered Private Bank, as saying.

“Markets will likely now focus on the 'knock-on economic impact' and effect on corporate earnings as a result of measures taken by authorities in China and elsewhere in the region to tackle the virus outbreak,” Brice said.