Sentiment turns cautious on Bursa as speculation about national health emergency mounts

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KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 23): Share prices have reversed their upward trend seen earlier on Bursa Malaysia today as speculation has run rife that a national health emergency, which could include the suspension of Parliament, may be declared.

The FBM KLCI, which posted gains at the end of the morning trading session, fell into the negative zone in the afternoon trading session. The benchmark index dropped by 4.16 points or 0.3% to close at 1,494.64.

On the broader market, the ACE Market Index fell by 3.15% or 344.43 points to 10,606.77. The FBM Small Cap Index shed 2.57% or 353.45 points to 13,413.66.

A majority of stocks closed lower today, with 900 decliners against 232 gainers, while 425 counters were unchanged.

Selling pressure only got stronger in the final hour of trading before the closing bell at 5pm.

In terms of trading volume, some 6.93 billion shares worth RM4.1 billion were traded today. Top actives were MLabs Systems Bhd, AT Systematization Bhd, and Lambo Group Bhd.

Fraser & Neave Holdings Bhd, MISC Bhd and Public Bank Bhd were top gainers, while top losers were Nestle (Malaysia) Bhd, Carlsberg Brewery Malaysia Bhd and Duopharma Biotech Bhd.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin chaired a special meeting with the Cabinet today and was said to be meeting with Yang-di-Pertuan Agong to be conferred with special emergency powers.

News reports indicated that the prime minister rushed from the Cabinet meeting to Kuantan, Pahang to meet with the King.

It was unclear what the emergency powers would entail.

For the most part today, Asian bourses were largely in the green. The Nikkei 225 was up by 0.18% or 42.32 points at 23,516.59. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was up 0.54% or 132.65 points at 24,918.78, while the Shanghai Composite Index was down by 1.04% or 34.50 points at 3,278.

Reuters reported that broader Asian stocks reported slim gains on better-than-expected US jobs data.

“Broader Asian stocks recorded slim gains after better-than-expected US jobs data and signs of progress in talks for a US$2 trillion stimulus deal in Washington supported US equities overnight,” it reported.

Lam Jian Wyn