Market tumbles as rate hike worries intensify

KUALA LUMPUR: The FBM KLCI declined over the morning session as robust US employment data sidelined talk of recession and returned the focus to aggressive interest rate hikes.

At 12.30pm, the key index was down 8.43 points to 1,493.12. The market breadth was negative with 435 decliners compared with 233 gainers.

Trading volume was 1.07 billion shares valued at RM585.53mil.

The majority of blue chips were in the red as investors opted to cash out of the market in the lead-up to the release of the US consumer price index for July, which would shed more light as to the US central bank’s next step in its monetary tightening cycle.

PETRONAS Chemicals doped 12 sen to RM8.68, Press Metal slid 10 sen to RM4.71 and Tenaga Nasional fell nine sen to RM8.38.

In telcos, Maxis dropped eight sen to RM3.70, Axiata fell five sen to RM2.94 and Maxis lost eight sen to RM3.70.

The prospect of further declines in the US technology sector in the event of more aggressive rate hikes sent the local tech sector lower.

MPI lost 88 sen to RM32, KESM dropped 21 sen to RM7.32 and Vitrox shed 14 sen to RM7.47.

Of actives, Zentech was down 0.5 sen to three sen, Metronic was up 0.5 sen to eight sen and DNeX gained two sen to 89.5 sen.

In Asia, shares were mixed as investors moved to key in an expected 75 basis points hike in the Fed lending rate.

Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.3% to 28,249, South Korea’s Kospi was flat at 2,490 and China’s composite index was up 0.2%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was down 0.75% to 20,050 as shares in major tech counters dove on rate hike fears.

Australia’s ASX200 was down 0.1% to 7,009.

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