The Malaysian stock market has finished lower now in consecutive sessions following the modest two-day winning streak in which it gathered more than 7 points or 1 percent. The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index fell through support at 870 points, and now analysts are expecting those losses to accelerate further at the opening of trade on Tuesday.
The global forecast for the Asian markets is broadly negative, with continued pressure likely among the automobile stocks and the financial issues. The European and U.S. markets finished sharply lower on Monday and the Asian bourses are tipped to follow that lead - although the losses may not be quite as heavy, since the Asian markets already suffered sizeable losses in Monday's trade.
The KLCI finished sharply lower on Monday, led to the downside by heavy losses among the financial stocks. The industrial issues posted more modest declines, as did the plantation sector.
For the day, the index dropped 16.09 points or 1.82 percent to close at 869.34 after trading between 866.72 and 882.86. Volume was 363.794 million shares worth 600.717 million ringgit. There were 330 decliners and 144 gainers, with 165 stocks finishing unchanged.
Among the decliners, Sime Darby was down 2.5 percent, Malayan Banking fell 6.0 percent and financial service group CIMB was 2 percent lower, while KNM Group, Resorts World, Mulpha International, Genting, Bumiputra Commerce, IOI Corp and MISC also ended lower.
Wall Street offers another sharply pessimistic lead as stocks saw continued weakness throughout the trading day on Monday after moving sharply lower in early trading. While the major averages did not see much follow-through on their early downward move, they remained stuck firmly in negative territory. The weakness in the markets came as investors responded to disappointing news regarding the auto industry as well as renewed concerns about the outlook for the financial sector. Some traders also looked to cash in on the gains seen in the three previous weeks.
Much of the selling pressure came as President Obama and his auto task force indicated that General Motors (GM) and Chrysler have not gone far enough in their restructuring plans and need to step up their efforts to reorganize in order to receive additional government aid. While the administration will continue to provide operating funds for the next few weeks, it has given both GM and Chrysler a final deadline, threatening bankruptcy if the beleaguered auto giants do not significantly increase their efforts to restructure their business.
Additionally, at the request of the White House, Rick Wagoner has stepped down as chairman and CEO of General Motors, with Fritz Henderson, GM president and chief operating officer, set to replace Wagoner as CEO.
Financial stocks also experienced considerable weakness after Treasury Secretary Geithner suggested that more banks might need bailout funds. Appearing on the Sunday talk shows, Geithner explained that the ongoing stress tests for the financial industry have shown many other banks need funds from the TARP, although he said there is only about $135 billion left in the bailout pool.
Meanwhile, optimism surrounding this week's G20 summit has waned, as investors fear that earlier hopes that the countries will agree to a coordinated fiscal boost appear to have been crushed by skepticism in many European governments.
The major averages regained some ground going into the close of trading, but they remained firmly negative. The Dow closed down 254.16 points or 3.3 percent at 7,522.02, the Nasdaq closed down 43.40 points or 2.8 percent at 1,501.80 and the S&P 500 closed down 28.41 points or 3.5 percent at 787.53.
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