Bursa on track for another red close

KUALA LUMPUR: Bursa Malaysia descended over the course of morning trade after a promising start, in the absence of domestic catalysts to spur buying interest.

All eyes on locked on to release of fourth-quarter economic data scheduled for release on Friday as well as corporate earnings results in the coming days.

At 12.30pm, the benchmark FBM KLCI was down 4.81 points to 1,471.57 as the market ignored the positive sentiment in global markets after US Fed chair Jerome Powell made dovish comments over future interest rate increases.

The market breadth was negative with 425 declining counters compared with 345 gainers.

Trading volume was 2.06 billion shares valued at RM1.11bil.

While regional markets have picked up in recent days, the local market remains caught in range-bound trading.

Blue chips that led the decline included CIMB down nine sen to RM5.49, Press Metal sliding 11 sen to RM5.23, Sime Darby Plantation falling 10 sen to RM4.35 and RHB dropping 12 sen to RM5.54.

Consumer-related counters continued to outperform amid expectations of improved prospects following China's reopening and as festival-related shopping is expected to boost upcoming fourth-quarter earnings results.

F&N gained 48 sen to RM26.48, Carlsberg rose 24 sen to RM24.54, British American Tobacco added 20 sen to RM12.80 and Heineken added 14 sen to RM29.44.

MyEG remained the day's top traded counter with 167.08 million shares traded, rising 1.5 sen to 71.5 sen as investors bought up the counter after the previous session's heavy sell-off.

Also heavily traded, Sapura Energy was unchanged at 4.5 sen and Velesto lost 0.5 sen to 24 sen.

Key Asian markets were mostly buoyant following Powell's remarks although Japan's market fell following the release of disappointing results from Nintendo, Softbank and Sharp.

The benchmark Nikkei was down 0.4% to 27,569, in contrast to a sharp rally in South Korea's Kospi, which soared 3.8% to 2,486.

China's composite index was a fraction lower at 3,246 while South Korea's Kospi gained 0.3% to 21,356.

In Australia, the ASX200 was up 0.3% to 7,528.

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