KUALA LUMPUR: Local fund fund buying helped the battered FBM KLCI to close off its early lows but it was not enough to lift the index above the key 1,600 level on Tuesday due to the escalating US-China trade conflict.
At the start of trade, the KLCI fell to a low of 1,572.03 at 9.07am after the sharp overnight fall on Wall Street.
However at 5pm, the KLCI was down 1.9 points or 0.12% to 1,599.19 – the lowest since September 2015. Turnover was 2.82 billion shares valued at RM2.46bil. There were 386 gainers, 488 losers and 381 counters unchanged.
Reuters reported world stocks hovered near two-month lows, although slightly more optimistic comments from US and Chinese officials on trade brought some comfort a day after equities suffered their worst selloff so far this year.
Earlier, US President Donald Trump said he is holding fire on taxing the remaining US$325bil of Chinese goods, and announced that he will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping in June, reigniting hopes for an agreement to end the tariff tussle.
His comments came after China announced on Monday higher tariffs on US$60bil of US goods, effective June 1, in retaliation for Washington's decision last week to hike its own levies on US$200 bil in Chinese imports.
Among key Asian markets, Japan's Nikkei 225 closed down 0.59%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index 1.5%, Shanghai Composite 0.69%, Hang Seng China Enterpruse 1.53%, Taiwann's TAIEX 0.37% and Singapore's Straits Times Index 0.32% lower.
Jakarta's Composite Index lost 1.05% and joined the KLCI as the only two markets in the red in Asia. Year-to-date, the KLCI is down 5.41% and Jakarta 1.99%.
The ringgit weakened against the US dollar by 0.17% to 4.1715.
Crude palm oil for third month delivery managed to climb RM2 to RM2,006 per tonne. Sime Plantation fell 23 sen to RM4.68 and wiped out 2.75 points. KL Kepong lost six sen to RM24.38, PPB Group and IOI Corp two sen each to RM18.52 and RM4.24.
US light crude oil fell 22 cents to US$60.82 and Brent 17 cents to US$70.06. Petronas Gas fell 38 sen to RM16.50 and erased 1.30 points from the KLCI, Petronas Chemical shed three sen to RM8.81 but Petronas Dagangan was eight sen higher at RM24.38. Dialog shed one sen to RM3.07.
Nestle was the top gainer, up RM1.30 to RM145, F&N 48 sen to RM33.86 but Ajinomoto lost 26 sen to RM17.20.
Public Bank rebounded 14 sen to RM22.46 and added 0,94 of a point to the KLCI, CIMB and RHB Bank gained four sen each to RM5.16 and RM5.76, HL Bank two sen to RM19.38 but Maybank shed two sen to RM8.96 and Ambank eigt sen to RM4.31.
MISC lost 12 sen to RM6.56, Genting six sen to RM6.54, GentingM three sen to RM3.07. However, Tenaga rebounded to close six sen higher at RM11.80 after falling to a low of RM11.30.
As for telcos, Maxis lost five sen to RM5.31, Axiata was flat at RM4.30 while Digi gained four sen to RM4.57.
Glove makers Hartalega advanced 16 sen to RM4.99 and Top Glove 11 sen to RM4.68.