KUALA LUMPUR: Blue chips ended Thursday on a disappointing note amid the record high Covid-19 infections, the impact of restrictions on the economy while a key barometer Public Bank fell below RM4 for the first time after the bonus issue.
At 5pm, the FBM KLCI was down 2.46 points or 0.16% to 1,512.93. Turnover was 4.47 billion shares valued at RM2.85bil. The broader market weakened again as decliners beat advancers 636 to 350 while 398 counters were unchanged.
Malaysia continued to record high Covid-19 infections. As at noon Thursday, there were 17,170 new cases, raising the total number to 1,078,646 cases. Based on the population of about 32.5 million, this meant the percentage of the population infected is about 3%.
Selangor continued to record high levels at 7,163 new infections and Kuala Lumpur 2,138.
The death toll continued to mount, rising by 174 deaths to 8,725.
However, the government continued to push ahead with the immunisation programme to achieve herd immunity. So far, 18,946,048 people have received their vaccinations – this number includes the first and second doses.
On the external front, Reuters reported China stepped up attempts to calm frayed investor nerves after a wild markets rout this week by telling foreign brokerages not to "overinterpret" its latest regulatory actions, setting the stage for a rebound in beaten-down stocks on Thursday.
China stocks had their best day in two months on Thursday. The blue-chip CSI300 Index jumped 1.9% and the Shanghai Composite Index gained 1.5%, but for the week, the gauges are still down 4.7% and 3.9%, respectively.
Shenzhen's start-up board ChiNext jumped 5.3%, recouping nearly all of this week's savage losses.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index ended Thursday up 3.3%, shrinking this week's loss to 3.7%. The Hang Seng Tech Index, the target of a heavy sell-off earlier this week, surged 8%, but is still down 4.3% for the week.
Reuters reported global benchmark Brent oil prices rose above $75 a barrel on Thursday as crude inventories in the world's top oil consumer, the United States, fell to their lowest since January 2020.
Brent gained 43 cents, or 0.6%, to trade at $75.17 by 0930 GMT, while the U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude climbed 51 cents, or 0.7%, to $72.90.
Petronas Chemicals rose 12 sen to RM8.11 but PetDag skidded 22 sen to RM18.28, PetGas shed six sen to RM15.64 and Dialog two sen to RM2.84.
Public Bank fell two sen to RM3.99, the lowest since its four-for-one bonus issue. HLFG lost 32 sen to RM17.16, HLBank four sen to RM18.14, RHB Bank one sen to RM5.17, Maybank was flat at RM8.04 but CIMB rose four sen to RM4.55 while.
Among the plantations, KL Kepong rose 12 sen to RM19.26, Sime Plantation seven sen to RM3.63 and IOI Corp one sen to RM3.70.
As for telcos, Axiata added two sen to RM3.84, Maxis and Digi were flat at RM4.32 and RM4.24 while TM shed two sen to RM5.99
Other KLCI stocks which closed in the red were MISC, which fell 8c to RM6.72, MRDIY seven sen to RM3.43, Tenaga five sen to RM9.73 while Sime Darby and Genting three sen each to RM2.16 and RM4.78.
Among the glove makers, Hartalega lost 19 sen to RM7.15 and Top Glove three sen to RM3.97 while Supermax was down six sen to RM3.23.
Chip makers and tech stocks were mostly higher except for KESM which fell 22 sen to RM12.20. MPI climbed RM1.20 to RM42.82, SAM Engineering 43 sen to RM8.32, Vitrox 34 sen to RM18.90 and Unisem 23 sen to RM8.23.
Edaran jumped 29.5 sen to RM1.16 and Computer Forms climbed 27 sen to RM4.28.
Mercury hit limit-up, surging 30 sen to RM1.33 after it secured an RM450mil contract from Solusi Kelana Sdn Bhd for piling, substructure, superstructure and infrastructure works in Johor.