KUALA LUMPUR: Blue chips extended their decline on Thursday, weighed down by banks on concerns of a rate cut and weaker economic growth crimping their profits due to the Covid-19 coronavirus.
At 5pm, the FBM KLCI was down 3.78 points or 0.24% to 1,539.16. Turnover was 2.74 billion shares valued at RM2.30bil. There were 452 gainers, 361 losers and 415 counters unchanged.
A sharp rise in the number of coronavirus deaths and infections unnerved world markets, as traders halted the rally in stocks and retreated to the safety of government bonds and gold, Reuters reported.
China's Hubei province, where the virus is believed to have originated, reported 242 new deaths, double the previous day's toll and the fastest rise since the pathogen was identified in December, it reported.
Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.14%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index 0.34%, Shanghai Composite 0.71%, South Korea's Kospi 0.24% and Singapore's STI 0.1%.
Bank Negara expects the virus to impact the economy specially in the first quarter and the government is reported to be preparing some stimulus measures to cushion the impact.
However, construction stocks were given a boost of expectations the government would push ahead with construction projects in the hope of a multiplier effect on the economy.
Ekovest rose eight sen to 74.5 sen and it was the most active with 57.30 million shares done while Iskandar Waterfront City added 8.5 sen to 79 sen.
AME Elite was the top gainer among the construction stocks, up 18 sen to RM1.93, Gamuda 11 sen to RM4.05, Gadang eight sen to 67 sen and IJM two sen to RM2.29.
Carlsberg rallied RM2.26 to RM35.66 after the MSCI stated it would include the brewer in its benchmark gauge. BAT, which will be excluded, fell 72 sen to RM11.60.
CIMB fell seven sen to RM4.88 and erased 1.23 points from the KLCI, HL Bank 30 sen to RM15.14 and wiped out 1.15 points, HLFG lost 10 sen to RM16.06 while AmBank shed one sen to RM3.85. Maybank was flat at RM8.46, Public Bank gained two sen to RM17.80 and RHB Bank three sen to RM5.64.
Telcos were mixed as Maxis lost eight sen to RM5.50 but Digi and Axiata inched up two sen to RM4.37 and RM4.38.
Concerns about the Covid-19's impact on air travel saw Malaysia Airports extending its decline, down 15 sen to RM7 but IHH Healthcare rose five sen to RM5.79.
Concerns about rising raw material prices due to the supply chain disruption saw glove maker Hartalega shedding one sen to RM6.11 but Top Glove inched up one sen to RM5.86.
Tenaga shed six sen to RM12.58, GentingM two sen to RM3 and Genting one sen lower at RM5.39 while Sime Darby eased one sen also to RM2.22.
Crude palm oil for third month delivery fell RM83 to RM2,626 per tonne.
As for plantations, KL Kepong lost 30 sen to RM23.40, PPB Group 14 sen to RM18.60, IOI Corp one sen to RM4.54 but Sime Plantation inched up one sen to RM5.22.
US light crude oil lost 32 cents to US$50.85 and Brent 55 cents lower at US$55.24.
Petronas Chemicals lost two sen to RM6.50, Petronas Dagagan four sen lower at RM22.26 but Petronas Gas gained four sen to RM16.30. Dialog shed one sen to RM3.39.
The ringgit fell 0.1% against the US dollar to 4.1410 and shed 0.04% against the pound sterling to 5.3658 but rose 0.26% against the euro to 4.5066 and inched up 0.1% to the Sigapore unit at 2.9830.