Bursa makes dismal start to second quarter

Banking stocks led by Public Bank dragged KLCI into minus territory today. (Reuters pic)

PETALING JAYA: Foreign selling of bank stocks, especially shares of Public Bank, sank the market barometer FBM KLCI into the red on the first day of the second quarter today while other key Asian markets headed north.

At the close, the KLCI was down 14.97 points or 0.91% to 1,628.66. Turnover was 2.63 billion shares worth RM1.96 biilion. The broader market was mixed with 445 gainers, 411 losers and 378 counters unchanged.

According to Reuters, the Shanghai Composite Index hit its highest level in 10 months, with blue chips at a one-year peak, on long-awaited signals of an economic recovery and progress in China-US trade talks.

The Shanghai Composite Index was up 2.6% at 3,170.36, its highest point since May 2018. The blue chip CSI300 index also rose 2.6% to 3,973.92, its highest since March last year.

Pong Teng Siew, head of research at Inter-Pacific Securities, told FMT the positive developments in the China-US trade talks could have been a contributory factor in the fall in the KLCI today.

He said Malaysia was seen as a beneficiary if trade ties between the two countries worsened.

Banks were dragged down with the sombre outlook with Public Bank, Hong Leong Bank, Maybank, CIMB and AmBank weighing on the KLCI.

Public Bank closed 68 sen down to RM22.48, wiping out 4.58 points. The 12-month target price for the stock is RM24.49.

“I am of the opinion that Public Bank shares took a hit as Macquarie had downgraded the company in a report,” said Pong.

Maybank shed seven sen to RM9.20, erasing 1.34 points, while Hong Leong Bank lost 32 sen to RM19.98 and wiped out 1.2 points. CIMB dropped seven sen to RM5.08, AmBank 11 sen to RM4.45 and RHB Bank eight sen to RM5.62.

IHH Healthcare lost seven sen to RM5.57 and erased 2.04 points, Tenaga shed four sen to RM12.62 while Genting Bhd and Genting Malaysia were four sen lower at RM6.60 and RM3.16, respectively.

Among the oil and gas stocks, Petronas Dagangan lost 20 sen to RM24.80, Petronas Gas dropped eight sen at RM17.54 and Petronas Chemical was down four sen to RM9.12.