KUALA LUMPUR: Investors sold down on Asian equities upon the release of Chinese December trade data that showed imports falling 7.6% year-on-year and exports slumping 4.4%, in contrast to analysts' forecasts of expansion.
Equities took a bearish turn in the Monday morning session as the contraction pointed to further cooling in the Chinese econnomy.
The Shanghai Composite Index slid 0.6% and the CSI 300 fell 0.8% while Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropped 1.4%. South Korea's Kospi dropped 0.7%
Southeast Asian markets declined in unison with Jakarta's Composite Index down 0.8% and Singapore's Straits Times Index 0.4% under.
At 12.30pm, the FBM KLCI was 7.28 points lower at 1,675.94. Trading volume was 1.25 billion shares valued at RM552.61mil. There were 419 decliners versus 266 gainers and 292 counters unchanged.
Petronas Chemicals took the hardest hit on the index, falling 42 sen or nearly 5% to RM8.28.
Maybank was also in the red with a 10 sen drop to RM9.35, while Public Bank slid 10 sen to RM24.66 to round up the top three losers.
On the advancing end, MISC added 12 sen to RM6.57, Nestle gained RM1.10 to RM146.10 and IOI rose two sen to RM4.54.
The most actively traded counter, Perisai Petroleum, remained at rock bottom after having lost 2.5 sen or 83% of its value to 0.5 sen after the announcement on Friday that it faced a de-listing by the stock exchange.
Other stocks seeing heavy trading interest were Hubline gaining 0.5 sen to six sen and Tatt Giap losing 1.5 sen to 16.5 sen.
Counters seeing positive price action on Monday were led by Amway rising 21 sen to RM6, BAT adding 18 sen to RM36.58 and MFCB lifting 18 sen to RM3.40.
Meanwhile, Dutch Lady
lost 90 sen to RM60.50, MPI dropped 30 sen to RM9.98 and Time dotcom slid 13 sen to RM8.37.
The negative Chinese trade data also triggered a 1% sell off in crude oil futures as a slowing economy would mean reduced demand for the commodity.
US crude futures slid 54 cents to US$51.05 a barrel while Brent crude futures dropped 65 cents to US$59.83 a barrel.
In currencies, the ringgit was little changed against the US dollar at 4.0970. It fell 0.85% against the pounds erling at 5.2612 and rose 0.2% against the Singapore dollar at 3.0272.