KUALA LUMPUR: The FBM KLCI slipped below the key 1,700-point level as Asian equities were routed on Tuesday, taking the lead of Wall Street's negative performance overnight and erasing the gains it had made in the previous session.
Among the key regional indices, Japan's Nikkei fell 2.7%, Shanghai's Composite Index dropped 2.3%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng plummeted 3.1% and South Korea's Kospi skidded 2.6%.
Southeast Asian stocks were not spared the bloodshed as Singapore's Straits Times Index lost 0.4%, Jakarta's Composite Index fell 0.7% and the Philippines PSE Index dropped 0.5%
Looking ahead, US stocks were poised for another session of losses. At 5pm local time US futures were firmly in the red.
The FBM KLCI ended Tuesday 24.87 points lower at 1,697.60. Turnover was 2.01 billion shares valued at RM2bil. Market breadth was overwhelmingly negative to the tune of 727 to 170, with 330 counters unchanged.
In the home market, buying interest was subdued ahead of Budget 2019, which will be tabled next week.
Heayweights Maybank, CIMB, Axiata and Tenaga Nasional saw big losses on the index, cumulatively shaving off about 14 points off the KLCI.
Maybank dropped 20 sen to RM9.40, CIMB lost 23 sen to RM5.75, Axiata skidded 24 sen to RM3.25 and Tenaga Nasional weighed 42 sen to RM14.08.
Other notable decliners included Genting Malaysia, losing 14 sen to RM4.42 and Petronas Gas sliding 40 sen to RM18.
Among the most actively traded counters, Prestariang rose 1.5 sen to 45.5 sen, Sapura Energy slipped 0.5 sen to 34 sen and MyEG dropped 10 sen to RM1.28.
Meanwhile, oil prices fell on Tuesday after Saudi Arabia pledged to continue its supply of crude to markets although US sanctions on Iran that will take effect next week continue to worry investors.
WTI crude fell 64 cents to US$68.72 a barrel while Brent crude slid 96 cents to US$78.87 a barrel.
In currencies, the ringgit was 0.1% weaker against the US dollar at 4.1642. It rose 0.3% against the pound sterling at 5.4094 and was little changed against the Singapore dollar at 3.0205.