KUALA LUMPUR: Bursa Malaysia saw heavy profit-taking activity in reaction in the lead up to Bank Negara's announcement of its interest rate decision later today.
PETRONAS Chemicals recorded the heaviest loss of 66 sen to RM8.46, a seven-month low, and single-handedly shaved nearly eight points off the benchmark index.
At 12.30pm, the FBM KLCI was down 15.08 points to 1,425.73. There were 565 decliners compared with 201 gainers.
Trading volume was 1.2 billion shares exchanging hands for a value of RM712.87mil.
Overnight, Brent crude futures prices dove 9.4% to US$102.77 a barrel as recession fears triggered a bout of panic selling in the commodity.
While prices bounced just over 1% on Wednesday, investors were quick to take profit out of energy stocks. Malaysia's energy index droped 4.7% in the morning session to its lowest since November 2020.
Sapura Energy, down four 0.5 sen to four sen, and Hibiscus Petroleum, slumping 8.5 sen to 91.5 sen, led the market in trading activity with 44.63 million and 42.75 million shares exchanging hands respectively.
Plantation stocks were also downbeat on fears that rising inflation will derail economic growth, leading to muted demand.
Sime Darby Plantation fell 25 sen to RM4.01, IOI lost 10 sen to RM2.70 and Kuala Lumpur Kepong dropped 98 sen to RM20.52.
Amid the sell-off, banks mostly held their ground as investors anticipate a 25 basis point hike in the overnight policy rate today.
CIMB gained six sen to RM5.11, Maybank rose one sen to RM8.62, RHB added one sen to RM5.73 and Public Bank was unchanged at RM4.41. Hong Leong Bank slid 22 sen to RM20.40.
In major Asian markets, stocks retreated on fears that the region was primed for a recession.
Japan's Nikkei fell 1.15%, South Korea's Kospi dropped 1.2% and China's composite index slipped 1.3%.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 1.4% while Australia's ASX200 lost 0.4%.