Beating for KLSE and ringgit

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 02 Dec 2014

Red, red, red: A punter looking at the KLSE board in a securities firm.

PETALING JAYA: The stock market and the ringgit have taken a beating from falling oil prices, which have sunk below the US$70 per barrel mark.

The benchmark FBM KLCI, which measures the key 30 stocks of Bursa Malaysia, was down 42 points or 2.34% at its close at 5pm, marking its worst performance since mid-October, while the ringgit declined to 3.4340 against the US dollar, a four-and-a-half-year low.

At 5pm, Brent crude oil was down 94 cents to a five-year low of US$69.21 while US light crude oil – better known as West Texas Intermediate (WTI) – fell US$1.09 to US$65.06 as markets continued to be spooked by the plunge in oil prices.

The plunge follows an Opec decision not to cut production despite a huge oversupply in global markets.

The technical indicators are all pointing to even lower oil prices.

Technical analysts said the WTI – the benchmark oil price used by Bank Negara to calculate the economic indicators – should find some support at US$64 per barrel.

If it goes below that level, it could plunge all the way to US$32.40 per barrel – the lowest recorded price in recent years when it hit US$32.40 per barrel on Dec 19, 2008, before rising to US$114.83 on May 2, 2011.

Taking the cue from the plunging oil prices and a chilling warning issued by Petronas on declining revenues, oil and gas stocks on Bursa Malaysia also faced a rout which affected market sentiment as a whole.

Yesterday, some 981 counters declined compared to 82 gainers while 150 were unchanged.

Petronas president and chief executive Tan Sri Shamsul Azhar Abbas had said on Friday that the national oil corporation was cutting its spending for next year by between 15% and 20% and asserted that its contribution to the Government’s coffer in the form of taxes, royalties and dividends could be down by 37% to RM43bil from RM68bil this year.

Analysts said the selling could be over-done and expected a relief rebound when oil prices settle.

Oil prices fell to their lowest in five years yesterday due to the production war between Opec and the American oil boom from shale oil producers.

In recent months, the United States has become a major producer of shale oil and gas – fuel that’s extracted from rock fragments – threatening the position of Saudi Arabia as the dominant oil-producing country.

In response to the threat, Opec, which is influenced by Saudi Arabia, has vowed to continue production of oil in a market where supply has outstripped demand.

This has led to a free fall in global oil prices that have declined by more than 40% since July this year.

Late last night after the opening of the US counters, oil price fell to below US$65 a barrel.

Saudi Arabia hopes to break the back of shale oil and gas producers by making their operations not financially viable.

It had been reported earlier that at prices below RM80 a barrel, shale oil producers would go bust.

However, Bloomberg reported that only about 4% of US shale oil output needs US$80 a barrel or more to be economically viable.

Among the top losers of the Bursa yesterday were SapuraKencana Petroleum Bhd, Bumi Armada, Dialog Group Bhd, UMW Oil and Gas Bhd and Petronas-related counters.

The paper wealth wiped out due to the rout on the oil and gas stocks was close to RM8bil.

The selling pressure also spread to plantation stocks, with crude palm oil for third month delivery down RM63 to RM2,109 per tonne. The fall in crude oil prices would make biodiesel less viable as an alternative at current prices.

However, low-cost carrier AirAsia Bhd bucked the trend as it stands to benefit from weaker oil prices. AirAsia rose 21 sen to RM2.79.

Investors were also worried about the impact Petronas’ reduced payout would have on the Government that counts on the national oil corporation as a key source of funding for its expenditure.

UOB Kay Hian Malaysia’s head of research Vincent Khoo said a much lower crude oil price scena­rio would bring negative implications on the ringgit and the Federal Government’s ability to spend its way to pump prime the economy.

The head of research, products and alternative investments at Etiqa, Chris Eng, said that based on the weakening of the ringgit, foreign funds could be behind the selling.

“However, today’s selling was over­­done and I believe there could be a relief rebound,” he said, based on improving US economic growth and ample liquidity from China and Japan.

Eng said according to reports, Bank of America believed Malaysia’s budget deficit could balloon to 3.8% from a planned 3% while Citi thought the 3% deficit could still be maintained.

“The outlook for investing in 2015 remains challenging but it also depends on what level the local bourse ends the year,” he said.

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Business , klse , ringgit down


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