KUALA LUMPUR: The local equity market was left uninspired ahead of a US Federal Reserve interest rate decision next week amid the prospect of slowing growth.
Investors are betting that the Fed will lower rates for a third time this year at the meeting, but are left guessing as to how deep the cut will be.
At 12.30pm, the FBM KLCI was 1.38 points lower at 1,569.73. Trading volume was 1.2 billion shares valued at RM649.92mil. There were 351 decliners versus 265 gainers and 369 counters unchanged.
Heavyweights leading the fall were Hong Leong Bank dropping 12 sen to RM16.68, Tenaga Nasional sliding 10 sen to RM13.76 and Axiata falling five sen to RM4.24.
In the opposite direction, Sime Darby Plantation advanced four sen to RM4.76, IOI rose three sen to RM4.28 and Public Bank gained four sen to RM19.26.
Meanwhile, semiconductor stocks were among the day's top decliners, led by Vitrox down 47 sen to RM7.60 and MPI falling 16 sen to RM11.34.
Top active traded counters in the early session were Velesto up 1.5 sen to 36 sen, Vsolar flat at 5.5 sen and Netx unchanged at 2.5 sen.
Oil prices retreated on Friday, snapping a three-day winning streak as investors turned to profit-taking amid the gloomy demand outlook.
US crude slid 30 cents to US$55.92 a barrel and Brent crude dropped 31 cents to US$61.36 a barrel.
In currencies, the ringgit was down 0.1% to 4.1860 against the US dollar. It was unchanged against the pound sterling at 5.3757 and down 0.1% against the Singapore dollar at 3.0694.
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