KLCI pares loss but stays below 1,600 level as US-China trade spat haunts markets

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KUALA LUMPUR (May 14): The FBM KLCI pared some of its loss at mid-morning today but remained below the crucial 1,600-point level as the spectre of a fresh trade spat between the US and China haunted regional markets.

At 10am, the FBM KLCI was down 12.47 points to 1,588.62. The index had slumped to a low of 1,572.03.

Losers led gainers by 580 to 122, while 255 counters traded unchanged. Volume was 853.1 million shares valued at RM482.06 million.

The top losers included Petronas Gas Bhd, Genting Plantations Bhd, Tenaga Nasional Bhd, Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd, MISC Bhd and KESM Industries Bhd.

The actives included Ekovest Bhd, Bumi Armada Bhd, Lambo Group Bhd, My EG Services Bhd, Iris Corp Bhd, Daya Materials Bhd and Sapura Energy Bhd.

The gainers included Nestle (M) Bhd, British American Tobacco (M) Bhd, Scientex Bhd and Hartalega Holdings Bhd.

Shares in Asia extended losses on Tuesday following sharp falls on Wall Street overnight, the yen strengthened and US Treasury yields ticked lower as the trade war between China and the United States escalated, according to Reuters.

In early trade on Tuesday, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.4%, touching its lowest level since Feb 15, it said.

Hong Leong IB Research said trade-sensitive stocks in the US are likely to suffer over the near term as trade tensions escalated following the reciprocal actions made by China, imposing higher tariffs on US products.

"In the current sentiment, we opine that the selling pressure is likely to stay until any trade deals are put on the table from both the US and China. Hence, the Dow's downside risk will be expected in the near term.

"With the negative sentiment under the escalated trade environment, we opine that the selling pressure may dominate for the near term and upside on the KLCI could be limited at this juncture.

"At this current juncture, market participants are pricing in lower chances of any trade resolutions to be struck between the US and China, and the market could stay within the retracement phase," it said.