Early opening markets in Japan, South Korea and Australia were down over 1% each.
Chinese markets, which are yet to begin trading at the time of writing, are expected to experience a sell-off as the country resumes business after a week-long Lunar New Year break.
The Chinese central bank plans to inject US$173.8bil of liquidity into the market via reverse repo operations later today to head off the panic.
At 9.06am, the local benchmark index was down 12.89 points at 1,518.17. Trading volume was 402.59mil with a value of RM147.92mil. Market breadth was overwhelmingly negative with 531 decliners, 42 gainers ans 149 counters unchanged.
In its technical outlook, Kenanga research expects the index to experience near-term consolidation.
"A resumption of the uptrend could be underway only when the index breaks out from the existing consolidation pattern by breaching the 1,600-psychological mark convincingly," it said.
"With that, we turned to a neutral stance while lowering key support levels to 1,530 (S1) and 1,500 (S2).
"In addition, the index is still caught inside a medium-term downward sloping channel, which we see a possibility that the FBMKLCI could drift lower towards the psychological threshold of 1,500 (which was last tested in Aug 2015)."
Top traded counters were Vivicom unchanged at two sen, SAPURA ENERGY down one sen to 23.5 sen and Bumi Armada down two sen to 33.5 sen.
Stocks experiencing the sharpest declines were KESM down 67 sen to RM9.45, BAT falling 64 sen to RM11.14 and Oriental Holdings dropping 42 sen to RM6.01.
Gaining traction, Tasek was up 13 sen to RM5.79, MISC rose five sen to RM7.74 and Press Metal gained five sen to RM4.93.
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