KLCI tracks regional fall; ringgit weakens

KLCI tracks regional fall; ringgit weakens
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KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 8): The FBM KLCI fell 2.76 points or 0.2% as crude oil prices at below US$40 a barrel, hit Asian stock market sentiment.

At 5pm, the KLCI ended at 1,669.24 points. Petronas Gas Bhd was the top decliner across Bursa Malaysia.

“The local market actually held up well, despite weak performance in the region,” Inter-Pacific Securities Sdn Bhd's head of research Pong Teng Siew told theedgemarkets.com via telephone.

“There may be some ground for the technology sector, (which is seen) benefiting from the weak ringgit,” Pong noted.

The ringgit weakened to 4.2615 against the US dollar, in tandem with prices of crude oil. The commodity is a major component of the Malaysian economy.

Anticipation of a US interest rate hike this month could have also led to the ringgit's depreciation.

US policy makers will meet next Tuesday and Wednesday (Dec 15 and 16) to decide on the country's monetary policy. A US rate hike does not bode well for emerging Asian markets like Malaysia, as investors turn their attention to US dollar-denominated assets.
Today, Bursa Malaysia saw 423 decliners versus 393 advancers. A total of 1.78 billion shares, valued at RM1.69 billion, changed hands.

Top gainer was Kossan Rubber Industries Bhd. 1 Utopia Bhd was the most actively-traded counter.

Across Asian share markets, Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 1.04%, South Korea's Kospi declined 0.75%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 1.34%.

Reuters reported that crude prices edged away from nearly seven-year lows on Tuesday, as China reported strong commodity imports, despite economic weakness; but overall, the market remained weak due to global oversupply, compounded by OPEC's decision to keep output high.

Asian stocks hit three-week lows on Tuesday, as a rout in oil prices knocked energy company shares lower and many investors moved to the sidelines, before next week's meeting where the US Federal Reserve is expected to raise US interest rates.

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