KUALA LUMPUR: Bursa Malaysia closed lower on Monday as the undertone of the stock market remained cautious on continued foreign selling and ahead of the first quarter GDP data on Tuesday.
At 5pm, the FBM KLCI was down by 3.53 points or 0.22% to 1,583.92. Turnover was 6.01 billion shares valued at RM3.53bil.
The undertone of the market continued to be weak, weighed down by continued foreign selling and the Covid-19 pandemic. The broader market saw nearly three decliners to one advancer or 845 losers to 297 gainers and 397 counters unchanged.
According to MIDF Research, foreign investors disposed of RM336.37mil net of equities last week as compared to RM376.46mil in the previous week. Year to date, foreign investors have been net sellers of RM3.21bil of Malaysian equities.
The country recorded 3,807 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the total number so far to 444,484. Selangor had the most cares at 1,149.
Meanwhile, Bank Negara is set to release the GDP for 1Q at midday and RAM Ratings estimates Malaysia’s GDP to have contracted 2.1% in 1Q 2021 amid MCO 2.0.
"Nonetheless, this contraction - the fourth consecutive quarter of decline - is expected to be slightly less pronounced than the preceding quarters’ (4Q 2020: -3.4%; 3Q 2020: -2.7%)," RAM said.
However, BIMB Securities Research was more upbeat and it expects the economy to have shrunk at a smaller pace of 0.6% year-on-year in the first quarter (1Q 2021) compared with a contraction of 3.4% in the fourth quarter last year.
At Bursa, Supermax fell the most among the KLCI stocks, down 33 sen to RM4.63 as investors expect earnings to dip in future quarters,Top Glove 10 sen to RM5.16 but Hartalega gained two sen to RM9.58.
Among the smaller-cap glove makers, Careplus lost 12 sen to RM2.29 and Adventa nine sen to RM1.99.
Genting and GentingM fell due to the imposition of the Movement Control Order again. Genting fell five sen to RM4.89 and GenM four sen to RM2.84.
Petronas Gas gained 10 sen to RM15.80 and Petronas Dagangan six sen higher at RM19.36 but Petronas Chemicals lost five sen to RM8.25 and Dialog three sen to RM3.01.
Oil rose after major US fuel pipeline operator Colonial Pipeline had to shut fuel pipelines due to a cyberattack, raising concerns about supply disruption and pump price increases.
Brent crude was up by 31 cents, or 0.5%, at US$68.59 a barrel by 0820 GMT. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 rose by 46 cents, or 0.7%, at US$65.36.
Among the banks, CIMB and RHB Bank shed three sen each to RM4.13 and RM5.16, Public Bank and Maybank were unchanged at RM4.10 and RM8.24 but HLFG added 14 sen to RM16.86 and Hong Leong Bank six sen to RM17.58.
Sime Plantation gained six sen to RM4.77 and PPB Group two sen to RM18.72 but IOI Corp was flat at RM4.10 while KL Kepong shed two sen to RM22.50.
MISC was up 13 sen to RM6.85, IHH was flat at RM5.66 and Press Metal unchanged at RM5.38.
Trans Ocean fell the most on Bursa, down 64 sen ot 10.5% to RM5.43 and CCB 30 sen lower at RM2.70.
Among the tech stocks, Vitrox fell 38 sen to RM14.96, Pentamaster 36 sen RM4.73 and UWC 27 sen to RM5.27, Dataprep 12 sen to RM1.73 and PMB Tech 11 sen to RM5.59.
Amcorp Properties rose 30 sen to 84.5 sen after its major shareholders proposed to take it private at 90 sen a share.
On the external front, Reuters reported Hong Kong shares edged lower as the technology sector fell amid Beijing's deepening anti-trust war, outweighing gains in energy firms and vaccine makers.
The Hang Seng index fell 0.1%, to 28,595.66, while the China Enterprises Index lost 0.5%, to 10,651.07.
Reuters reported China stocks wavered with no clear direction, as losses in tech shares amid Beijing's deepening anti-monopoly war offset gains in energy and healthcare companies.
The blue-chip CSI300 index fell 0.1% to 4,992.42, but the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.3% to 3,427.99 points.
Japanese shares gained, as a strong finish last week on Wall Street boosted risk appetite, while local investors looked to corporate earnings from automakers and other major firms for signs of progress in a pandemic-hit economy.
The Nikkei share average rose 0.55% to close at 29,518.34, while the broader Topix jumped 0.99% to 1,952.27.