KUALA LUMPUR: The FBM KLCI managed to hold close to the psychological 1,650 level in morning trade amid a bloodbath in global markets as economic indicators suggested that the US was in danger of falling into recession.
Slowing economic data triggered an inversion in the US treasury yield curve where long-term yields fall below short-term yields, sparking recession fears and a flight from equity to the safety of bonds.
At 12.30pm, the local index had shaved 15.78 points to 1,650.88. Trading volume was 1.35 billion shares valued at RM740.55mil. There were 580 decliners versus 171 gainers and 288 counters unchanged.
Twenty-seven of the 30 KLCI-linked counters were in the red, led by Maxis which fell 20 sen to RM5.36. Tenaga Nasional dropped 12 sen to RM12.76 while Axiata slid 11 sen to RM4.16.
Among the banks, Maybank was down two sen to RM9.27, Public Bank fell six sen to RM23.80, Hong Leong Bank shed 10 sen to RM20.30, CIMB lost three sen to RM5.18 and Ambank slid three sen to RM4.49
RHB bucked the trend by rising nine sen to RM5.79.
Other gainers were PPB gaining 18 sen to RM17.92 and Top Glove lifting five sen to RM4.48.
On the wider market, top decliners were Panasonic slipping 56 sen to RM37.10, BAT sliding 46 sen to RM35.02 and F&N falling 46 sen to RM34.34.
Regional markets were a sea of red from the opening bell. In Greater China, the Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.4%, the CSI300 Index slid 1.7% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dropped 1.8%.
Japan's Nikkei Index plunged 3.2% while South Korea's Kospi Index lost 1.7% and Australia's ASX200 Index slipped 1.2%.
In Southeast Asia, the Philippines' PSE Index bled 2.45% while Jakarta's Composite Index and Singapore's Straits Times Index lost 1.4% each.
Crude oil prices fell amid the recession fears with US crude dropping 45 cents to US$58.58 a barrel and Brent crude sliding 39 cents to US$66.64 a barrel.
The ringgit was weighed down by the commodity, slipping 0.1% agains the greenback to 4.0700. It fell 0.85% against the pound sterling at 5.3202 and 0.1% against the Singapore dollar at 3.0106.