Malaysian stocks close lower as investors await Trump's inauguration

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KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 20): The FBM KLCI closed lower today as investors exercised caution ahead of US President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration later tonight.

The benchmark index declined 0.1% or 1.62 points to finish at 1,664.89 points, with shares of British Amerian Tobacco (Malaysia) Bhd (BAT) and Hong Leong Financial Group Bhd leading decliners.

Etiqa Insurance and Takaful Bhd head of research Chris Eng told that the market turned cautious before Trump's inauguration, in line with the global market.

He said there was a rebound in the second half of the day, with some excitement surrounding the oil and gas sector such as UMW Oil & Gas Corp Bhd (UMW-OG), Icon Offshore Bhd and TH Heavy Engineering Bhd.

Crude oil price has gained 0.54% to US$54.45 per barrel while the WTI crude oil also edged higher by 0.49% to US$51.62 per barrel.

Across the region, Japan’s Nikkei ended the day higher by 0.34% to 19,137.91 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell by 0.71% to 22,885.91 points.

Reuters reported that Japanese stocks edged up as investors covered their short positions, but gains were tempered and volume was low as market sentiment was muted as investors await Trump's inauguration.

In the local market, volume was low with 1.58 billion shares worth RM1.59 billion traded. Market breadth was also sluggish with 300 gainers compared with 428 losers.

The most active counter was UMW-OG, while UMW Holdings Bhd emerged as the top gainer. Leading the decliners was BAT.