KUALA LUMPUR: The local stock market ended July on a disappointing note as selling pressure picked up pace in late Friday trade amid a weak economic outlook while key Asian markets also closed lower.
At 5pm, the FBM KLCI was down 18.33 points or 1.21% to 1,494.60. Turnover was 4.12 billion shares valued at RM2.72bil. Decliners beat advancers more than two to one or 665 losers to 300 gainers and 407 counters were unchanged.
The downbeat outlook for the economy was due to the strict restrictions to curb the Covid-19, which was expected to impact the economy while the volatile political situation also weighed.
As at noon on Friday, there were 16,840 fresh Covid-19 cases and raised the total number in the country to 1,095,486 since early last year when it broke out.
The Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER) sees a rocky road ahead for businesses as manufacturers reported a decline in sales due to a fall in domestic and external demand.
The MIER also said its consumer sentiments report for the second quarter to June showed signs of consumer fatigue are becoming more apparent and it could worsen.
Meanwhile, the Chief Statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin said: "Malaysia's economy is expected to face challenges in maintaining the recovery momentum.
“While the key economic indicators for the first five months of 2021 show encouraging performance, the Leading Index (LI) which anticipates the economic direction in the near future posted slower growth of 6.9% in May 2021 as against 15.7% in April 2021.
“In addition, the growth rate of smoothed LI is moving downwards despite persistently being above the trend.”
On the external front, Reuters reported shares in Hong Kong and China resumed their slump on Friday after rebounding in the previous session, with key indexes booking their worst monthly performance in years, as persistent concerns over regulatory crackdowns outweighed Beijing's attempts to calm markets.
China's blue-chip CSI300 Index closed down 0.8% and posted its biggest monthly loss since October 2018, while the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.42%, capping its worst month since May 2019.
Hong Kong tech shares slumped again, pulling the benchmark Hang Seng index to its biggest monthly fall since October 2018.
The Hang Seng closed down 1.4%, following Thursday's 3.3% rally. Tech giants such as Meituan and Alibaba led Friday's decline.
At Bursa, KL Kepong fell the most among the KLCI stocks, down 74 sen to RM18.52, Sime Plantation lost 23 sen to RM3.40, PPB Group 16 sen lower at RM18.10 and IOI Corp five sen to RM3.65.
Among the energy stocks, Petronas Gas lost 40 sen to RM15.24, Petronas Chemicals seven sen to RM8.04, Dialog nine sen to RM2.75 but Petronas Dagangan added 12 sen to RM18.40.
As for IHH, it was down 15 sen to RM5.64 and Tenaga nine sen to RM9.64, Genting seven sen to RM4.71 and GentingM three sen to RM2.76.
Glove makers were mixed. Hartalega lost 11 sen to RM7.04 but Top Glove edged up one sen to RM3.98 and Supermax four sen higher to RM3.27.
Among the banks, HL Bank was down 14 sen to RM18, CIMB 10 sen to RM4.45, Maybank three sen to RM8.01 while Public Bank dipped one sen to RM3.98.
As for telcos, Axiata lost 11 sen to RM3.73, Digi nine sen to RM4.15, Maxis six sen to RM4.26 and Telekom five sen to RM5.94.
But it was not all doom and gloom as strong earnings saw Genetec surge RM3.18 to RM22.82, SAM Engineering added RM2.48 to RM10.80, MPI RM1.68 to RM44.50 and KESM RM1 to RM13.20.