KUALA LUMPUR: Bursa Malaysia was the only market among the regional Asian markets to end in the red on Monday on continued foreign fund selling despite a firmer economic outlook.
The FBM KLCI was impacted by the fall in the share prices of Axiata and Digi on reports the merger of Telenor's operations with Axiata had hit a snag.
At 5pm, the KLCI was down 2.77 points or 0.17% to 1, 596.45. Turnover was 2.21 billion shares valued at RM1.50bil. The broader market was firmer with 429 gainers, 349 losers and 401 counters unchanged.
The ringgit saw volatile trade, hitting an intra-day high against the US dollar at 4.1640I but ended down 0.01% to 4.1785. Fitch Ratings revised its 2019 growth forecast for Malaysia to 4.6%, from 4.2%, after the country reported stronger-than-expected growth in the first half.
It was also volatile against the euro and Singapore dollar, ending Monday at its weakest. It fell 0.13% against the euro at 4.6383 and weakened 0.14% against the Singapore dollar at 0.14%. However, it edged up against the pound sterling, climbing 0.21% to 5.0654.
On the external front, Reuters reported Chinese stocks rallied to two-week highs after the central bank unveiled tweaks to its interest rate setting, offering hope to investors that major economies will use stimulus measures to battle a global slowdown.
The MSCI index of emerging market stocks rose 0.7%, as Beijing's heavyweight indexes jumped over 2%. Hong Kong-listed shares also made similar gains as anti-government demonstrations entered the eleventh week, although were the calmest since protests plunged Asia's financial hub into chaos.
Main stock benchmarks in South Korea and Taiwan rose about 0.6%, while share markets in emerging Europe also gained on news of Germany's government readying fiscal measures to counter a possible recession.
At Bursa, Axiata fell 13 sen to RM4.89 and erased 2.09 points from the KLCI while Digi shed five sen to RM4.97 and wiped out 0.68 of a point. Maxis added two sen to RM5.47.
Among the banks, CIMB fell three sen to RM5.04, Public Bank four sen to RM20.76, AmBank was flat at RM3.91 but Maybank edged up one sen to RM8.52 and RHB Bank gained three sen to RM5.51 while HL Bank added 10 sen to RM17.22.
Sime Darby fell two sen to RM2.14, Genting Malaysia and Genting slipped one sen each to RM3.07 and RM5.99 while Tenaga and IHH Healthcare were flat at RM13.68 and RM5.69.
US light crude oil rose 37 cents to US$55.24 and Brent 38 cents up to US$59.02.
Petronas Chemicals rose 13 sen to RM7.28 and added 1.83 points to the KLCI, snapping its recent losing streak after its weaker results. Petronas Dagangan added six sen to RM22.86 but Petronas Gas shed two sen to RM15.98 and Dialog Group five sen to RM3.48.
Crude palm oil for third month delivery fell RM35 to RM2, 157 per tonne. KL Kepong lost 24 sen to RM23.78, IOI Corp shed one sen to RM4.22, Sime Plantation and PPB Group added two sen each to RM4.71 and RM18.80.
Nestle fell the most, down 70 sen to RM148.30, BAT 22 sen to RM22.04 but F&N added 26 sen to RM34.80, Dutch Lady and Carlsberg 18 sen each to RM64.28 and RM24.12.
Stephen Innes, managing partner, Valour Markets Pte Ltd Singapore said in a note to clients that equity markets and risk asset, in general, are on the move as stimulus hopes spring eternal.
“While the definite trade overtones from President Trump have sheltered risk markets from the usual maniacal Monday's, we've become far too accustomed to waking up for.
“Indeed even a return to the fragile state of G-20 trade war neutrality combined with sturdy Fed and PBOC policy backstops, it could provide a significant springboard for risk assets.
“But after last week’s rollercoaster ride dominated by risk-off mood, there's a large part of the market that needs more convincing suggesting the current uptick in risk sentiment might not be supportive enough to revert the constant overlay of unfavourable equity market views, ” Innes said.