KUALA LUMPUR: Tenaga Nasional, CIMB and Axiata led the Malaysian stock exchange lower on a day that saw broad-based selling in local and regional equities.
Global equities were seen falling across the board as Wall Street slid overnight. Investors lost their nerve as they prepared for a steady stream of corporate earnings to be announced. Meanwhile, Italy's tussle with Brussels over its budget deficit continued to weigh on sentiment.
At 12.30pm, the FBM KLCI fell 17.62 points to 1,704.85, enroute to a key support level of 1,700. Turnover was 1.07 billion shares valued at RM879.18mil. Decliners trumped advancers 563 to 159 with 275 counters were unchanged.
Investors sold down TNB on yesterday's announcement that a "solar leasing" concept would be introduced to benefit producers of excess solar power. At 12.30pm, the stock was down 32 sen to RM14.18.
Axiata extended its losses after three consecutive days of declines on anegative outlook for the telco sector. The counter, which is trading at 8.5-year lows, dropped 18 sen to RM3.31.
Meanwhile, CIMB headed for a third straight day of losses, dropping 20 sen to RM5.78. PublicInvest said in its morning report that the banking group's earnings will likely fall short of expectations although it remains bullish on its long-term prospects.
Few counters on the 30-stock index managed to shake off the bearish mood. Hong Leong Bank rose two sen to RM20.64, Maxis rebounded seven sen to RM5.29 and RHB gained two sen to RM5.23.
On the wider market, MyEG took off two sen to RM1.36 following yesterday's strong rebound while Datasonic continued to weigh, losing two sen to 43.5 sen. Prestariang rose three sen to 47 sen.
Other stocks seeing positive momentum included Gamuda, adding six sen to RM2.41, Elsoft climbing seven sen to RM3.27 and Vitrox rising 18 sen to RM7.99.
Oil prices fell as Saudi Arabia pledged to keep up its supply of crude despite the tensions arising over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
WTI crude dropped 18 cents to US$69.18 a barrel while Brent crude fell 30 cents to US$79.53 a barrel.
In currencies, the ringgit was 0.1% weaker against the greenback at 4.1653. It rose 0.6% against the pound sterling at 5.3954 and 0.16% to 3.0151.