No respite for Asian markets

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KUALA LUMPUR: All key Asian markets were in the red in the morning session on Feb 24 on continued worries of growing global recession and that US government’s policy responses introduced so far might not be able to prevent its economy from sliding further. At 12.30pm, the KL Composite Index was marginally higher by 0.56 point or 0.06% to 888.39. Turnover was 142.9 million shares valued at RM232.8 million. Decliners outpaced advances 249 to 93 while 152 counters were unchanged. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was the biggest casualty, falling 3.5% ot 461 points to 12,713.66 while Japan’s Nikkei 225 lost 2.11% to 7,220.71, Singapore’s Straits Times Index lost 1.79% to 1,601.56 and Shanghai’s Composite Index gave up 2.26% to 2,245.42. Light crude oil eased 44 cents to US$38 while crude palm oil futures fell RM42 to RM1,838. Bank Negara is scheduled to release the monetary policy statement in the evening, while the policymakers will likely leave the overnight policy rate unchanged following a cumulative cut of 100 basis points in the preceding two meetings. Putrajaya Perdana was the top loser, down as much as 15.4% or 68 sen to RM3.72 but in thin trade with 1,400 shares done. MSC fell 25 sen to RM2.65 and LPI 20 sen lower to RM9. Among plantation stocks, United Plantations fell 10 sen to RM10.70 and IOI Corp two sen to RM3.64 but Far East added 25 sen to RM5.35. Transmile was the most active with 11.7 million shares done. It edged up one sen to 66 sen, extending its gains from yesterday. Telekom, which is scheduled to release its results this evening, added two sen to RM3.30. EPIC rose one sen to RM1.35 while AZRB added 8.5 sen to 59 sen. BCHB added 15 sen to RM6.60 after releasing its full year results yesterday while Petronas Gas gained 10 sen to RM9.70.