Oil prices, ringgit continue to drag the KLCI

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KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 6): The FBM KLCI closed 20.04 points or 1.15% lower at 1716.58 points, as both the ringgit and crude oil prices slid further to fresh 5-1/2 year lows.

Reuters earlier reported that the Brent crude touched a fresh low since May 2009 at US$52.28 a barrel today, while the US crude was at US$49.63, down 41 cents, after earlier dropping to a new low since April 2009 at US$49.32.

At the time of writing, the ringgit was trading at 3.5567 a dollar.

A total of 1.64 billion shares worth RM1.9 billion were traded on the local bourse today.

Decliners outnumbered gainers by 639 to 180, while 246 counters remained unchanged.

Today's top gainers included United Plantations Bhd, DKSH (Malaysia) Holdings Bhd, Ibraco Bhd, Yinson Holdings Bhd and Muda Holdings Bhd.

The decliners were led by British American Tobacco (M) Bhd, Syarikat Takaful Malaysia Bhd, Tahps Group Bhd and Nestle (M) Bhd.

The most actively traded stock was Iris Corp Bhd, with some 85.5 million shares done.

TA Research chartist Stephen Soo told theedgemarkets.com that he did not see the market rebounding over the immediate term, and that it was possible the market could test new lows this year.

He also said headline losers for the day were banks as some were facing selling pressure from exposure to the oil and gas sector, as well as uncertainties over 1 Malaysia Development Bhd's (1MDB) loan repayment capability.

Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas)-linked stocks took a hit today as crude oil prices hovered around the US$50 per barrel mark.

Petronas Dagangan Bhd ended 0.6% down at RM16.94, Petronas Gas Bhd was 0.2% lower at RM21.78 and Petronas Chemicals Group Bhd was down 3.5% at RM5.01.

In its retail market report today, UOB KayHian Research said the benchmark index is expected to continue consolidating in the near term. It expects the market to continue its upturn once the consolidation ends.

Regionally, Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 0.99%, Japan's Nikkei 225 was down 3.02%, while the Singapore's Straits Times Index shed 1.39%