KUALA LUMPUR: Blue chips got off to a cautious start on Monday, the start of the second quarter, weighed down by losses in Public Bank, Hong Leong Bank and Tenaga Nasional.
At 9.48am, the FBM KLCI was down 8.84 points or 0.54% to 1,634.79. Turnover was 616.36 million shares valued at RM234.51mil. There were 248 gainers, 199 losers and 285 counters unchanged.
However, key Asian markets fared better amid signs of progress in US-China trade talks.
Beijing said it would continue to suspend additional tariffs on US vehicles and auto parts after April 1 in a goodwill gesture after Washington delayed tariff hikes on Chinese imports, Reuters reported.
At Bursa, Public Bank fell 58 sen to RM22.58, Hong Leong Bank 32 sen to RM19.98 while Tenaga lost 14 sen to RM12.52.
CIMB Equities Research said the banking industry’s loan growth continued to ease from 5.5% on-year at end-January 2019 to 5% on-year at end-February 2019 and it projects loan growth of 5% for this year. February was the third consecutive month of a slowdown in loan momentum.
Tasek Cement climbed 19 sen to RM5.15, F&N 16 sen to RM35 and Heineken 14 sen to RM24.14.
Oil prices rose as concerns about supplies outweigh fears of a slowing global economy.
Brent crude for June delivery was up by 34 cents at US$67.92 a barrel by 0055 GMT, having risen 27% in the first quarter. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures rose 30 cents to US$60.44 barrel, after posting a rise of 32%.
Petronas Dagangan advanced 14 sen to RM24.14.
Konsortium Transnasional – which operates a fleet of buses -- jumped 9.5 sen to 18 sen in active trade with 72.7 million shares done.
GETS added 4.5 sen to 38 sen, piling on the hefty gains from last Friday.