KUALA LUMPUR: The domestic market stayed poised for a third straight day of losses as the optimism seen in global equities earlier in the year was replaced by growing anxiety that interest rate hikes will continue for longer than expected.
In the absence of positive catalysts, Bursa Malaysia was locked in profit-taking mode while awaiting the release of corporate earnings results in the coming weeks.
At 12.30pm, the FBM KLC was down 3.81 points to 1,466.94 as it retraced to late-December levels of trading. The market breadth was negative with 493 decliners compared with 276 gainers.
Trading volume was 1.91 billion shares valued at RM997.59mil.
The bank sector, which has been a leading laggard in February, continued to lose weight amid expectations of weaker loan growth and a softer economy.
Maybank dropped two sen to RM8.62, CIMB fell one sen to RM5.39 and Hong Leong Bank slid four sen to RM19.96. Public Bank bucked the trend with a three sen advance to RM4.15.
PPB shed 10 sen to RM17.50, Hap Seng gave up 13 sen to RM7.05 and Westports lost 13 se nto RM3.56
Meanwhile, consumer counters were also seen taking a step back. BAT lost 52 sen to RM12.28 on the back of its earnings result yesterday. Heineken shaved 18 sen to Rm29.28, F&N dropped 16 sen to RM26.30 and Carlsberg shed eight sen to RM24.52.
Top traded actives included MyEG unchanged at 71.5 sen, Zentech shedding 0.5 sen to 5.5 sen and Hong Seng flat at 20 sen.
Regionally, key markets tracked the softer US performance to give up some of its recent gains.
Japan's Nikkei shed 0.2% to 27,543, South Korea's Kospi lost 0.2% to 2,479 and China's composite index gained 0.6% to 3,252.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.3% to 21,356 and Australia's ASX200 was down 0.55% to 7,489.