KLCI out of step with regional markets

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KUALA LUMPUR (April 19): The FBM KLCI extended losses today, falling another 6.53 points or 0.38%, in contrast to the recovery seen in most other Asian markets.

The index dipped to an intraday low of 1,708.3, before paring losses to close at 1,711.15, led by losses in stocks like Hong Leong Financial Group Bhd, YTL Corp Bhd, Genting Bhd and PPB Group Bhd.

Newly-listed leather upholstery supplier Pecca Group Bhd rose as much as 22.53% or 32 sen to RM1.74 before closing off the day's high at RM1.71. It was the second most-actively traded counter and the fifth largest gainer on Bursa Malaysia.

The ringgit strengthened to 3.886 at the time of writing.

Across Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 3.68%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng climbed 1.3% and South Korea's Kospi gained 0.11%.

Reuters reported that a major index of Asian shares rose to five-month highs today, taking its cue from gains on Wall Street after a strike in Kuwait helped pull crude oil prices above their overnight lows.

Crude oil futures firmed after a choppy Asian session and remained well off lows plumbed on Monday after weekend talks failed in Doha, where producers had hoped to curb a supply glut.

A strike in Kuwait temporarily slashed the country's oil output by more than half, and helped pull crude prices higher.

Malacca Securities Sdn Bhd analyst Kenneth Leong told theedgemarkets.com the KLCI was dragged down by some of the banking stocks, despite a stronger ringgit today.

"There is no fresh catalyst to support the [stock] market and there are still uncertainties in the oil price," he said, adding that the KLCI is expected to consolidate at 1,700 to 1,728 for the week.

Moving forward, he said steel counters will be closely watched as steel producers meet in Belgium.

Reuters reported that China and other major steel-producing countries failed to agree on measures to tackle a global steel crisis as the sides argued over the causes of overcapacity, prompting US criticism of Beijing's approach and an angry response from Chinese officials.

A meeting of ministers and trade officials from over 30 countries, hosted by Belgium and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development on Monday, sought to tackle excess capacity, but concluded only that it had to be dealt with in a swift and structural way.

Across Bursa Malaysia, 1.49 billion shares valued at RM1.91 billion were traded. Decliners outnumbered gainers by 422 against 329, while 408 counters were unchanged.

Ajinomoto (M) Bhd was the top gainer, while the leading decliner was Hong Leong Financial Group.

Ni Hsin Resources Bhd and Spring Gallery Bhd were among the most actively-traded stocks on the exchange.