KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 2): The FBM KLCI closed down 3.54 points or 0.22% at 1,598.72 today after profit taking in the final trading hour following an afternoon rise in an apparent response to news the UK became the first country to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. Lower crude oil prices however offset the impact of the Covid-19 vaccine-driven sentiment on equities.

Across Bursa Malaysia at 5pm, 9.22 billion securities were traded for RM5.43 billion.

There were 640 gainers and 557 decliners as investors also weighed Malaysia’s weaker manufacturing data and the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Malacca Securities Sdn Bhd senior analyst Kenneth Leong told theedgemarkets.com that “weaker manufacturing data released yesterday weighed on market sentiment”.

Globally today, it was reported that Asian shares rose on Wednesday after a strong lead from Wall Street fuelled by hopes for additional US economic stimulus and a coronavirus vaccine, but trade was choppy as some investors booked profits.

It was reported that the UK on Wednesday became the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for use and said that it will be rolled out from early next week. “A vaccine is seen as the best chance for the world to get back to some semblance of normality amid a global pandemic which has killed nearly 1.5 million people and upended the global economy,” Reuters reported.

In commodity markets, it was reported that crude oil prices extended losses on Wednesday, hit by a surprise build in oil inventories in the United States and as OPEC and its allies left markets in limbo by delaying a formal meeting to decide whether to increase output in January. It was reported that Brent crude oil futures were down by 41 cents, or 0.9%, at US$47.01 a barrel by 0358 GMT, while West Texas Intermediate crude was down by 46 cents, or 1%, at US$44.09.

In Malaysia yesterday, IHS Markit said in a news release that the headline IHS Markit Malaysia Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index — a composite single-figure indicator of manufacturing performance — dipped fractionally for the fifth month in a row, down from 48.5 in October to 48.4 in November.

This reading signalled a further moderation in the health of the manufacturing sector, although the trend appears to be flattening, while the deterioration was considerably less marked than that seen during the first wave of the pandemic, IHS Markit said.

“The recovery in the Malaysian manufacturing sector continued to lose momentum midway through the fourth quarter of the year. Businesses continued to scale back production, while new order inflows moderated. A rise in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases both domestically and around the world has led to reduced demand for Malaysian manufactured goods while supply chains struggled to deliver inputs in a timely manner. Nevertheless, Malaysian manufacturers were increasingly optimistic regarding the year-ahead outlook, with hopes that an end to the pandemic would give rise to a wider recovery in demand,” IHS Markit said.

At Bursa today, the KLCI erased losses at about 3:30pm after news on Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine’s approval in the UK appeared to offer a respite to the 30-stock index, which had earlier fallen as global equities took a cue from lower crude oil prices.

The KLCI, which rose to its intraday high of 1,605.60 after news of the Covid-19 vaccine’s approval, however, closed lower after a final hour slump.

At 5pm, the KLCI’s 0.22% decline trailed the 1.87% drop in Bursa’s Energy Index, which tracks shares of oil and gas-related companies.

The Energy Index was the top percentage decliner among Bursa gauges.

Across Bursa, notable decliners included oil and gas-related Petron Malaysia Refining & Marketing Bhd and Hengyuan Refining Co Bhd.

Petron’s share price closed down 12 sen or 2.84% at RM4.11 while Hengyuan fell 11 sen or 2.51% to RM4.28.

Meanwhile, the most-actively traded stock was Bioalpha Holdings Bhd, which saw some 487 million shares traded. Its share price closed down 4.5 sen or 12.68% at 31 sen.

Source: https://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/fbm-klci-closes-down-354-points-159872