KLCI remains in the red as banking heavyweights drag

KUALA LUMPUR: The FBM KLCI closed off lows after the prime minister announced another assistance package worth RM15bil to ease the pressure following the pandemic.

Banks, however, put up a lacklustre display due to expectations of another cut in the overnight policy rate (OPR) by 25 basis points to 1.50% at Bank Negara's monetary policy committee (MPC) meeting on Wednesday.

At 5pm, the benchmark KLCI was down 17.49 points to closed the day at 1,609.52 after moving between 1,625.35 and1,608.64. The index opened 1.66 points lower at 1,625.35 this morning.

Losers outpaced gainers 458 to 716 with 430 counters unchanged. Turnover was at 7.16 billion shares valued at RM4.3bil.

The Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced the "Perlindungan Ekonomi dan Rakyat Malaysia (Permai)" assistance package worth RM15bil.

In a special address, Muhyiddin said that the government had already announced four economic stimulus packages worth RM305bil previously.

He said a total of 22 initiatives will be implemented under Permai, anchored on the three main objectives namely - Combating the Covid-19 outbreak, safeguarding the welfare of the people, and supporting the business continuity.

On Bursa Malaysia, semiconductor and tech-related stocks dominated the gainers’ list with some hitting record highs.

MPI surged RM1.48 to RM30.20, JF Tech jumped 91 sen to RM6.93, UWC rose 84 sen to RM11.60, Dufu gained 45 sen to RM3.87 and Unisem advanced 44 sen to RM7.83.

Among the losers, Panasonic Manufacturing fell 48 sen to RM30.20, Euro shed 43 sen to RM5.19 and Nestle declined 40 sen to RM138.50.

Among the banks, Maybank fell 17 sen to RM8.08, Public Bank shed 22 sen to RM20.98, CIMB declined 10 sen to RM4, Hong Leong Bank closed 36 sen lower at 17.44 and AmBank fell six sen to RM3.20.

Reuters reported that nine out of 15 economists expected Bank Negara Malaysia to cut its OPR to a record low of 1.50%, according to the poll on Monday, with another analyst betting on a bigger 50 basis point cut.

The remaining five expected the central bank to stay put.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was up 1.01% at 28,862.77, its highest close since Jan. 17, 2020.

Japan's nikkei index closed down 0.97% to 28,242.21 while South Korea’s KOSPI fell 27.09 points, or 0.88%, to 3,058.81

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