KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 20): The FBM KLCI closed 3.2 points or 0.18% lower to finish at 1750.11 points after Malaysia upped its fiscal deficit and cut its economic growth forecasts in a revision to this year's budget. The revamp was precipitated by the steepening fall in crude oil and gas prices since the 2015 budget was presented last October.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced today the government had revised its fiscal deficit target to 3.2% of gross domestic product (GDP) from 3% earlier. GDP growth forecast is also lower at 4.5% to 5.5% versus the 5% to 6% estimated earlier.
Across Bursa Malaysia, the market saw 2.05 billion shares valued at RM2.02 billion traded.
There were 418 gainers against 391 decliners while 289 counters remained unchanged.
Top gainers included DKSH Holdings (M) Bhd and Aeon Credit Service (M) Bhd. Decliners were led by British American Tobacco (M) Bhd and Sarawak Oil Palms Bhd
The most actively traded stock today was KNM Group Bhd with about 127.72 million shares done.
According to Areca Capital CEO Danny Wong, the announcement had brought some calm to investor sentiment, spooked by falling crude oil prices.
“The reassurance from the government that we are actually a net importer of petroleum, and that the cuts would affect more of the operating expenditure rather than the capital expenditure have calmed jitters among investors,” he said.
The market continued to watch closely the ringgit's weakness. At time of writing, the ringgit was traded at 3.6090 against the US dollar and 2.6975 to the Singapore dollar.
According to a Reuters report, the ringgit hit a near six-year low on Tuesday after the government adjusted its economic targets to cope with sliding oil prices.
The report quoted CIMB Investment Bank head of regional interest rate and FX strategy Suresh Kumar Ramanathan as saying that the ringgit would remain trading within the 3.6-3.7 range against the US dollar in the coming quarters, and that the measures at least would keep it within this broad range for now.
Across the region, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 0.9% while Japan’s Nikkei rose 2.07%. South Korea’s Kospi climbed 0.82%.
Reuters reported that Asian markets breathed a sigh of relief on Tuesday after China reported its economy had not slowed as far as many had feared, a rare glint of brightness amid gloom over the global outlook.