RTTNews - The Malaysian stock market on Wednesday saw an end to the modest two-day winning streak in which it had gathered almost 20 points or 1.9 percent along the way. The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index slid below support at the 1,050-point plateau, and now analysts warn of further declines at the opening of trade on Thursday.
The global forecast for the Asian markets is laced with pessimism after a strong run-up in the previous session. The pending bankruptcy of General Motors has automobile sectors around the world under pressure, while North Korea's nuclear and missile tests add to the overall negative sentiment. The European markets ended slightly higher, while the U.S. markets ended firmly in negative territory - and the Asian bourses are tipped to follow the latter lead.
The KLCI finished modestly lower on Wednesday, as investors consolidated their positions ahead of GDP data. The financial stocks finished moderately lower, while the plantations and industrial issues also ended in the red.
For the day, the index dropped 3.95 points or 0.38 percent to close at the daily low of 1,047.68 after peaking at 1,059.88. Volume was 1.443 billion shares worth 1.421 billion ringgit. There were 311 gainers and 296 decliners, with 243 stocks finishing unchanged.
Among the decliners, Sime Darby, IOI Corp and Maybank each shed 1 percent and Telekom Malaysia lost 1.4 percent, while Tanjong, PPB Group, Top Glove, Compugate Holdings, E&O, Bumiputra-Commerce and Genting also finished lower. Posting gains were Sino Hua-An, KNM and SAAG.
The lead from Wall Street is broadly negative as stocks saw a considerable pullback during Wednesday's trading following a notable rally in the previous session. The major averages showed lack of conviction during the first half of the day before moving firmly into negative territory in the afternoon.
Equities struggled to find direction in morning trading following a mixed report from the housing market. While a National Association of Realtors report showed a bigger than expected increase in existing home sales, the report also showed a considerable increase in housing inventories.
Nonetheless, stocks came under selling pressure following the Treasury Department's auction of $35.0 billion worth of 5-year notes. The sale drew a high-yield of 2.310 percent while attracting moderately strong demand, with the bid-to-cover ratio coming in at 2.32.
The report from the National Association of Realtors said that existing home sales rose 2.9 percent to an annual rate of 4.68 million units in April from a downwardly revised rate of 4.55 million units in March. Economists had expected sales to rise to a 4.66 million unit rate from the 4.57 million unit rate originally reported for the previous month. While the pace of existing home sales increased compared to the previous month, total housing inventories at the end of April represented a 10.2-month supply compared with a 9.6-month supply in March.
In corporate news, Bank of America (BAC) said that it raised almost $26 billion in its capital plan since the stress test results were announced and is well on its way to reaching the $33.9 billion indicated Supervisory Capital Assessment Program or SCAP buffer set by the Federal Reserve. The company announced last week that it raised $13.5 billion through issuing 1.25 billion shares in an at-the-market common stock offering. It has also sold part of its holdings in China Construction Bank, generating a capital gain.
In other news, the Federal Reserve continued its treasury buyback program this morning, the second quantitative easing move of the week. The New York Federal Reserve purchased $6.0 billion worth of securities with maturity dates ranging from May of 2012 to August of 2013. The day's buyback saw a total of $18.82 billion in treasuries submitted for the purchase. This week, the Fed purchased $7.55 billion in treasuries bringing the total to $130.53 billion since the program began on March 25.
The major averages all closed firmly in the red, just off their worst levels of the day. The Dow closed down 173.47 points or 2.1 percent at 8,300.02, the NASDAQ closed down 19.35 points or 1.1 percent at 1,731.08 and the S&P 500 closed down 17.27 points or 1.9 percent at 893.06.
In economic news, Malaysia's economy contracted 6.2 percent in the first quarter from the previous year after expanding 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter, the Bank Negara Malaysia said on Wednesday. The economy shrank more than the expected 3.9 percent fall. During the first quarter, domestic demand declined 2.9 percent and private consumption fell 0.7 percent. Gross fixed capital formation declined 10.8 percent. Exports dropped sharply by 20 percent following a sharp contraction in manufactured exports, as well as lower commodity exports.
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