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Malaysia Stocks Near Three-Week Low, Chinese Shares Fall as Sanctions Weigh, Philippines Shares Finish 0.8% Higher

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Malaysia Stocks Near Three-Week Low
The FTSE KLCI lost 13 points or 0.8% to a near three-week low of 1,603 on Tuesday, as traders were nervous following news that sales of previously owned houses in the US plunged 6.6% mom in February, worse than market forecasts; and that the Chicago Fed National Activity Index sank to a ten-month low. Risk appetite was also rattled by reports that the US and others including the EU Monday imposed sanctions on China over Xinjiang’s abuse, while Beijing hit back with punitive measures against Europe. Adding the bearish tone, Kuala Lumpur said that interstate travel in Malaysia for the Eid al-Fitr celebration may depend on risk assessments on the local COVID-19 situation. Traders now await Congressional appearance by US Fed Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen later in the day as well as the release of February’s consumer price index on Wednesday. Top Glove sank 1.5%, while Maybank shed 0.6%.

Chinese Shares Fall as Sanctions Weigh
The Shanghai Composite lost 31.93 points or 0.93% to 3411.51 on Tuesday as Western sanctions against China and lingering worries over policy tightening weighed on the market. The US and others including the EU on Monday imposed sanctions on China over Xinjiang’s abuse, while Beijing hit back with punitive measures against Europe. On the pandemic front, China reported nine new COVID-19 cases, up from seven a day earlier. In local news, the Chinese government issued draft guidelines to regulate the e-cigarette industry, dealing a major blow to the world’s biggest market for tobacco products, while Reuters said that Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings is offering concessions in a plan to merge the country’s top two videogame live-streaming sites in order to resolve antitrust concerns. Meantime, the Hang Seng Index fell 390.11 points or 1.35% to 7-week lows of 28495.23.

Philippines Shares Finish 0.8% Higher
The PSE Index rose 51 points or 0.8% to close at 6,446 on Tuesday as investors welcomed the pullback in bond yields and reports that the Biden administration is working on a massive infrastructure deal. Market participants were also upbeat after trial data showed the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca is 79% effective in preventing symptomatic illness and 100% effective against severe disease and hospitalization. In local news, the Philippines reportedly plans to borrow PHP 3.3 trillion this year to fund its COVID-19 response. The figure was slightly higher than the PHP 2.7 trillion in 2020 and PHP 1 trillion in 2019, according to the country’s finance secretary. Meanwhile, local media reports said that the nation is expecting a 25% drop at least in the number of new virus infections following a two-week stricter curb in the national capital region including four provinces. Among top gainers were property (1.8%), financials (1.2%), holding firms (0.3%), and services (0.2%).

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