KUALA LUMPUR (April 5): Shares on Bursa Malaysia plunged into the red today, pressured by weak crude oil prices which pushed US equities lower overnight.
The benchmark FBM KLCI contracted 7.16 points or 0.42% to close at 1,718.08. Overall, the bourse saw a total of 1.71 billion shares worth RM1.94 billion traded.
Areca Capital Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Danny Wong said the decline in the KLCI today mirrored the dampened performance of the US markets, which had a knock-on effect on markets in the Asia-Pacific region.
"Nothing much was going on today. The fall in the KLCI is in line with the dampened performance of the US stock market overnight as crude oil price declines," he told theedgemarkets.com. Brent crude futures fell 0.42% to US$37.53 per barrel today, according to Bloomberg data.
Wong added that investors are eyeing the release of minutes from the March Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting, scheduled on Wednesday.
"However, based on the recently announced US manufacturing data, the US Federal Reserve may take a while before deciding to hike interest rates," said Wong.
Decliners beat gainers at 453 versus 364, while 376 counters remain unchanged.
Leading the decliners were Genting Bhd and PPB Group Bhd, while Dolphin International Bhd's warrant, DOLPHIN-WA, headed the gainers. The most actively traded stock was AirAsia X Bhd's warrant AAX-WA.
Markets in the region were mostly down, with Japan's Nikkei 225 falling 2.4%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng sliding 1.57%, while South Korea's Kospi declined 0.82%.
Reuters said Asian shares and other riskier assets skidded on Tuesday, pressured by slumping crude oil prices and mixed messages from Federal Reserve policymakers on the outlook for US interest rate rises.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 1.3%, it reported.