Published: Friday May 18, 2012 MYT 12:55:00 PM

Key markets in the red, KLCI down 13pts at midday

By Joseph Chin

KUALA LUMPUR: All key regional markets were in a sea of red at midday on Friday, as worries in Europe and weakening US manufacturing sector continued to erode investors' confidence.

The key regional indices fell up to 2.8% with South Korea's Kospi erasing all its year-to-date gains.

At 12.30pm, the FBM KLCI was down 13.32 points or 0.86% to 1,530.89 and it is just up 0.01% year-to-date. Turnover was 527.60 million shares valued at RM608.61mil. There were 77 gainers, 647 losers and 214 stocks unchanged.

Among the key regional markets, Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 2.47% to 8,657.59; Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index lost 2.32% to 18,754.60; Shanghai's Composite Index 1.06% to 2,353.73; South Korea's Kospi 2.81% to 1,793.34; Taiwan's Taiex 2.19% to7,195.86 and Singapore's Straits Times Index 1.63% lower at 2,776.60.

Among the commodities, US light crude oil fell seven cents to US$92.49, Brent was up five cents to US$107.54; gold spot 65 cents lower at US$1,573.49.

Crude palm oil futures for third-month delivery fell RM32 to RM3,063. The US follar index was up 0.29% to 81.65.

The ringgit weakened to 3.1458 to the greenback, the lowest since Jan 10.

Bloomberg reported that almost US$4 trillion has been wiped from global equity markets this month as Europe's deepening crisis threatens the global recovery.

Moody's Investors Service lowered debt ratings at 16 Spanish banks, citing the recession and mounting loan losses, and Greece's credit rating was reduced one level by Fitch Ratings on concern the country may not be able to sustain membership in the euro area.

On Malaysia, Maybank Investment Bank Research senior analyst, Desmond Ch'ng said he expected to see more consolidation in the market.

"It is not the time to bottom pick as yet," he said, adding it would take time for the eurozone problems to be sorted out.

As for the Malaysian economy, he said the fundamentals had strengthened significantly since the financial crisis while domestic demand accounted for 90% of the GDP.

He added the banks were fundamentally solid and well capitalised and the asset quality had improved significantly while loan growth was steady.

Among the index-linked stocks, Sime and Maybank fell 14 sen each to RM9.34 and RM8.41, dragging the KLCI down 4.51 points. CIMB and Tenaga lost eight sen each to RM7.17 and RM6.21, erasing 2.42 points.

Dutch Lady fell the most, down 76 sen to RM31, Nestle 70 sen to RM54 and F&N 46 sen to RM18.

Sapura Kencana Petroleum fell for the second day since the merged entity was listed on Thursday, down 13 sen to RM1.97. Its reference price was RM2.24.

JCY lost six sen to RM1.51 despite the upbeat look for the hard-disk drive manufacturer and strong earnings.

Among the gainers were Leader, up 11.5 sen to 73.5 sen, Iretex 11 sen to RM1.17 and BAT 10 sen to RM52.

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