The benchmark Kuala Lumpur Composite Index (KLCI) declined 1.81 points to close at 866.93. It had opened 0.38 of a point lower at 868.36 this morning.
The dealers said that finance counters continued to drag down the local bourse as more banks were expected to underperform in the second quarter on rising bad debts and lower loan borrowings.
Among the counters were Maybank which lost two sen to RM4.84, Public Bank which dropped 20 sen to RM8.20 and Hong Leong Financial which eased four sen to RM4.54.
The Finance Index went down 54.19 points to 6,699.40.
However, the dealers said that further losses were capped by gains on plantation counters amid report of demand likely to pick up following a decrease in palm oil output due to floods.
The Plantation Index added 39.97 points to 4,318.05.
Of the plantation counters, IOI Corp gained six sen to RM3.66 and Kuala Lumpur Kepong increased 20 sen to RM9.90.
Throughout the trading session, the KLCI moved between 863.87 and 870.71.
For the other indices, the Industrial Index decreased 11.34 points to 2,055.30, the FBMEmas lost 11.78 points 5,671.86, the FBM30 fell 26.42 points to 5,588.89 and the FBM2BRD was 1 point lower at 3,953.81.
The FBMMesdaq, however, gained 87.84 points to 3,121.08.
Gainers led losers by 239 to 232 while 205 counters were unchanged, 568 untraded and 32 others suspended.
The turnover today was at 327.19 million shares worth RM539.53 million,down from the 368.99 million shares valued at RM624.26 million recorded yesterday.
Affin Holdings Bhd rose 0.8 per cent to RM1.26, the most since February 23.
The Malaysian bank and AXA Asia Pacific General Insurance plan to start preliminary talks “soon” with Felda Holdings Bhd to buy its stake in BH Insurance (M) Bhd.
Malaysia’s central bank has “no objection in principle” for them to begin negotiations, Affin said in a statement.
Can-One Bhd dropped 5.1 per cent to 83.5 sen, the steepest decline since December 16.
The Malaysian maker of tin cans for edible oils said it isn’t considering taking Kian Joo Can Factory Bhd private.
Can-One last month agreed to buy 33 per cent of Kian Joo for RM241.1 million (US$65 million).
Gamuda Bhd rose 2.1 per cent to RM1.94, the most since February 27.
Malaysia’s second-biggest builder was raised to “overweight” from “neutral” at JPMorgan, which said the company is in a “comfortable position” to benefit from spending by the government’s stimulus package.
Public Bank Bhd and RHB Capital Bhd dropped after JPMorgan Chase & Co lowered their stock ratings, citing a weaker outlook for earnings.
Public Bank, the country’s biggest by market value, fell 2.4 per cent to RM8.20, the lowest close since December 16.
Public Bank was cut to “neutral” from “overweight” by JPMorgan. RHB Capital Bhd, the country’s fourth-biggest bank, dropped 1.6 per cent to RM3.62. It was lowered to “underweight” from “neutral.” - Agencies