China's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index ended the day 7% lower on the first day of trading after its Lunar New Year holiday.
Other major markets fared better but remained bearish with Japan's Nikkei recording a 1% drop while South Korea's Kospi was little changed. Hong Kong's Hang seng held on to a 0.2% advance.
With the death toll from the epidemic rising to 361 in China and the first death outside of the country reported in the Philippines, observers are expecting things to get worse before they get better.
At 5pm, the FBM KLCI fell 9.11 points to 1,521.95, drifting closer towards a support level of 1,500 points. Turnover on the broader market was robust with 3.96 billion shares traded valued at RM2.85bil.
There were 738 declining counters versus 281 gainers and 327 unchanged.
Bank stocks dragged the market lower with heavyweight Maybank slipping seven sen to RM8.36 and CIMB falling eight sen to RM4.85. Public Bank was also down four sen to RM18.56 while Hong Leong Bank shed 12 sen to RM15.88.
Among the plantation players, KL Kepong lost 22 sen to RM22.58, IOI fell five sen to RM4.49 and Sime Darby Plantation dropped eight sen to RM4.99.
Glove makers extended their profit taking with Top Glove slipping seven sen to RM5.78 and Hartalega falling 12 sen to RM5.80.
Meanwhile, among the consumer counters, Nestle dropped RM1.10 to RM143.20 and Dutch Lady slid 98 sen to RM40.02. Brewer Heineken slid 44 sen to RM27.42 while F&B fell 42 sen to RM32.44
Oil markets fell amid rising fears that disruptions to trade and business would affect the global demand for the commodity.
US crude was down 16 cents to US$51.40 a barrel and Brent crude fell 57 cents to US$56.05 a barrel.
On the forex market, the ringgit was 0.4% lower against the greenback at 4.1125. It fell 02% against the Singapore dollar at 3.0053 but rose 0.2% against the pound sterling at 5.3972.
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