The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index fell for a third day, losing 16.01, or 1.8 per cent, to close at 897.45, its lowest level since January 2. Just five stocks rose on the 100-member measure. January index futures slid 1.9 per cent to 889.50.
Turnover stood at 603.30 million shares worth RM711.63 million (US$198.12 million).
“Weaker-than-expected retail sales figure in the US coupled with selldown on Wall Street triggered the de-rating of the equity markets. Selling was across all boards and sectors with blue chip stocks leading the fall,” a dealer said.
The weak sentiment follows the slashing by an influential Malaysian think-tank today of its 2009 economic growth forecast to 1.3 per cent, calling for a second economic stimulus package to stave off recession.
Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER) head Datuk Dr Mohamed Arif Abdul Kareem said the cut was due to declines in economic indicators and a drop in business and consumer confidence.
It had previously forecast 3.4 per cent GDP growth for the year.
Mohamed Arif said there was a “50 per cent chance” of a technical recession in the first two quarters but expected positive growth in the second half of the year that could offset the first half.
The think-tank also predicted Malaysia’s central bank would slash the overnight policy rate by 50 basis points this year following a reduction of 25 basis points to 3.25 per cent in November 2008.
IOI Corp, Malaysia’s second biggest planter, declined 8 sen, or 2.1 per cent, to RM3.74, the lowest close since December 31. Tradewinds Plantations Bhd lost 9 sen, or 6.1 per cent, to RM1.39, the second worst performer on the benchmark Composite Index. Boustead Holdings Bhd fell 18 sen, or 5.6 per cent, to RM3.06, the steepest slide since October 28.
Malaysia’s palm oil exports fell 33 per cent in the first 15 days of January, independent surveyor Intertek said today. Palm oil futures slid as much as 3.9 per cent to RM1,811 a metric ton, on course for its lowest close since January 2.
DiGi.Com Bhd slid 30 sen, or 1.4 per cent, to RM20.80, the lowest close since December 22. The mobile phone operator’s stock rating was lowered to “sell” from “neutral” at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
Pelikan International Corp fell 5 sen, or 4.3 per cent, to RM1.11. The stationery maker said it agreed to buy 81 per cent of Indistri SA, a manufacturer and distributor of office and school stationery, for US$4.25 million.
Star Publications (Malaysia) Bhd, the nation’s biggest English-language newspaper publisher, fell 12 sen, or 3.8 per cent, to RM3.08, the largest decrease since July 4. Kim Eng Research Sdn Bhd downgraded the stock from “sell” to “hold”, saying advertising revenue had plummeted.
Telekom Malaysia Bhd, Malaysia’s largest fixed-line operator, dropped 14 sen, or 4.3 per cent, to RM3.12, the most since November 12. Goldman Sachs Group Inc cut its rating on the stock to “sell” from “neutral.”
TM International Bhd slid 16 sen, or 4.4 per cent, to RM3.46, its steepest slide since December 5. The state-owned Malaysian mobile-phone operator said its group failed to win a licence to sell mobile-phone services in Iran. TM said in a statement it will continue to consider other investment opportunities. - Agencies