KUALA LUMPUR: The inflation data scheduled to come out of the US later this week has investors placing their bets over the future direction of monetary policy.
While expectations of a slower economy have fuelled the equities rally in recent days, the latest US payrolls data point towards resilient employment, suggesting continued high inflation and consequently, higher interest rates.
On Bursa Malaysia, investors are taking a cautious stance as they await confirmation, one way or another, over the US's level of inflation in July.
At 9.05am, the FBM KLCI was down 0.3 point to 1,501.25. There were 133 declines compared with 112 gainers.
Trading volume was 104.06 million shares valued at RM34.22mil.
"From a charting standpoint, after jumping (by 98.9 points or 7.0%) from a recent trough of 1,409 in mid-July to a high of 1,508 last Thursday, the dearth of follow-through buying interest suggests that the intermittent technical rebound for the FBMKLCI might be running out of steam already," said Kenanga Research.
The research house said it is yet to see any convincing signs of a reversal on the chart's downtrend, which began its slide from a recent peak of 1,615 in early May.
"And with the existence of technical signals triggered by the Parabolic SAR (which has plotted a downtick) and the RSI indicator in the midst of retracing from an overbought position, the FBMKLCI could face renewed selling pressure and back off from our immediate resistance barrier of 1,510 towards our first support threshold of 1,475," it added.
On the blue-chip FBM KLCI, stocks mostly drifted lower with Press Metal leading the decline.
The aluminium producer shed 10 sen to RM4.71 while energy major Tenaga Nasional dropped seven sen to RM8.40.
Banks and telcos were also on the decline as investors positioned themselves for potential disappointment in the coming US consumer price data.
Maybank slid one sen to RM8.88 and Public Bank fell one sen to RM4.62.
Axiata dropped four sen to RM2.95, Digi shed three sen to RM3.62 and Maxis lost three sen to RM3.75.
Among most actives, Green Packet rose one sen to six sen, Zentech was flat at 3.5 sen and Unique Fire gained 0.5 sen to 23 sen.