KUALA LUMPUR: The FBM KLCI extended its slump on Thursday as investors continued to take points off banks and telcos.
Leading the sell-off among banks, Public Bank lost 32 cents in morning trade to RM22.28 while Maybank dropped eight cents to RM8.92.
In telcos, Maxis recorded losses for a second straight day, falling 15 cents to RM5.38 while Axiata dipped three cents to RM4.05 and Digi slid two cents to RM4.66.
At 12.30pm, the FBM KLCI was down 9.44 points to 1,611.46, which took the index to January 2016 lows. Trading volume was 1.41 billion shares valued at RM794.57mil.
There were 493 decliners compared to 225 advancers and 337 counters unchanged.
In a morning note, Kenanga research affirmed the negative technical outlook on the local index but expects a rebound given that the stochastic indicator has been been in the oversold area for some time.
"Should a rebound happen, we look towards 1,660 and 1,700 as resistance levels. Conversely, downside supports can be found at 1,615 and 1,600," it said.
Over the wider stock exchange, Orion picked up one sen in active trade to 18 sen. Sapura Energy
lost 0.5 sen to 32 sen and Vivocom gained 0.5 sen to 2.5 sen.
Elsewhere in Asia, markets were mostly weaker following Wall Street's negative performance overnight and as profit-taking ensued ahead of the long Easter weekend.
In China, the Shanghai Composite Index was down 0.2% while the CSI300 Index fell 0.3% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dropped 0.6%.
Japan's Nikkei Index slid 0.7% and South Korea's Kospi skidded 1.1%.
Oil prices firmed up on Thursday following a retreat in the early trading session as data showed rising US production. However, confidence in Opec's supply cuts put the commodity prices back on positive ground.
US crude rose six cents to US$63.82 a barrel and Brent crude gained five cents to US$71.67 a barrel.
In currencies, the ringgit continued to slide on fears that Malaysian bonds would suffer a downgrade following a potential exclusion from the World Government Bond Index.
It fell 0.25% against the greenback to 4.1453, 0.25% against the pound sterling to 5.4081 and 0.1% against the Singapore dolar to 3.0623.