KUALA LUMPUR: The ringgit continues on a losing streak against the US dollar on Friday while the benchmark FBM KLCI remains under pressure.
The ringgit was quoted at 4.4120 against the greenback. It had earlier depreciated to 4.415 in early trade, on expectation of an imminent US interest rate hike, coupled with a drop in oil prices overnight.
On the bright side, analysts says ringgit would be steadier as Bank Negara has announced initiatives to stabilise the falling ringgit.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen signalled the US central bank was close to lifting interest rates as the economy continues to create jobs at a healthy clip and inflation inches higher.
A rate hike “could well become appropriate relatively soon if incoming data provide some further evidence of continued progress toward the committee’s objectives,” Yellen was reported as saying.
Yellen reiterated the expectation of Fed officials that future rate increases will be “gradual.” Bond prices have fallen and stocks have risen as investors anticipate that Trump’s proposals to cut taxes and boost infrastructure and defense spending will lead to faster inflation and stronger growth.
At 12.30 pm, the benchmark FBM KLCI fell 5.97 points to 1,620.8 points. It opened 2.61 points lower at 1,624.16.
In the broader market, losers outnumbered gainers with 388 stocks ending lower and 251 stocks finishing higher while 303 counters were unchanged. Turnover stood at 692.03 million shares worth RM577.71mil.
According to Hong Leong Investment Bank Research, the index had no impetus to stage a meaningful rebound.
“Despite rebounding from 1,616 (Nov 14’s low) to a high of 1,637 on Nov 16, KLCI was unable to hold the gains as the index dropped for a second day to end 0.9-pt lower to 1,626.8.
“We reiterate our view that for a resumption of uptrend, KLCI must swiftly reclaim above the downtrend channel support near 1,640 zones. Should the aforesaid fail to materialise, KLCI is likely to resume its downtrend towards 1600-1612 levels,” it said.
The research house reiterated KLCI’s near term outlook remained challenging on the back of uncertainties in the equities, bonds and currencies markets coupled with the ongoing 3Q16 reporting season and the upcoming Bersih 5 rally.
“That said, the market should gradually recover towards the year end, buoyed by Bank Negara’s measures to stem forex market volatility, expectations of year-end window dressing activities and speculation of Malaysia’s general elections being held in 2017,” it said.
Meanwhile, laggards in the FBM KLCI component stocks were led Petronas Chemicals (PetChem), which dragged the index down by 1.5769 points. Petronas Gas (PetGas) dragged the index down by 1.0401 points while Sime Darby dragged the index down by 0.9821 points.
PetChem closed 12 sen lower to RM6.81, Sime Darby declined 9 sen to RM7.96 and PetGas lost 32 sen to RM21.04.
Leading the top gainers, Petronas Dagangan added 28 sen to RM23.72, Canone rose 20 sen to RM3.70 while IQ Group accumulated 16 sen to RM2.42.
Brent crude was last traded at US$46.16 per barrel while US crude traded at US$44.98 per barrel.
Among the key regional markets:
Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.59% to 17,967.41;
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 0.02% to 22,267.40;
CSI 300 fell 0.26% to 3,427.73;
Taiwan’s Taiex gained 0.15% to 9,008.79;
South Korea’s Kospi eased 0.23% to 1,976.05 and
Singapore’s Straits Times Index rose 0.64% to 2,831.40.