The Malaysia stock market gave up less than a pair of points on Tuesday - but that was enough to extend its losing streak to four sessions, costing it more than 17 points or 1.1 percent in that span. The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index finished just above the 1,580-point plateau, and now investors are looking for a modest rebound when the market opens on Wednesday.
The global forecast for the Asian markets is mixed with a positive bias, with much stronger than expected earnings news from Apple outweighing soft U.S. economic news. The Commerce Department reported that new home sales fell in March but still came in well above estimates. Also, the Conference Board showed that U.S. consumer confidence was virtually unchanged in April. The European markets were higher and the U.S. bourses were mixed, and the Asian markets figure to split the difference.
The KLCI finished slightly lower on Tuesday as losses from the financial shares and plantation stocks were offset by support from the industrials.
For the day, the index eased 1.52 points or 0.10 percent to finish at 1,582.28 after trading between 1,579.04 and 1,583.79. Volume was 1.42 billion shares worth 1.55 billion ringgit. There were 409 decliners and 273 gainers, with 348 stocks finishing unchanged.
Among the actives, Maybank, Sime Darby and Ariantec Global all finished higher, while Ingenuity Solutions was unchanged and CIMB Group and Metronic Global moved lower.
The lead from Wall Street is inconclusive as traders were reluctant to make any significant moves ahead of the Federal Reserve's monetary policy announcement on Wednesday. The Fed is widely expected to leave interest rates at near-zero levels, but traders will pay close attention to any comments regarding the outlook for further quantitative easing.
A mixed batch of economic data also weighed, with the Commerce Department reporting that new home sales fell 7.1 percent to an annual rate of 328,000 in March from an upwardly revised February rate of 353,000. Despite the drop, sales came in above estimates for a rate of 318,000.
A separate report from the Conference Board showed that U.S. consumer confidence was virtually unchanged in the month of April. The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index edged down to 69.2 in April from a downwardly revised 69.5 in March. Economists had expected the index to slip to 69.7 from the 70.2 originally reported for the previous month.
Among individual stocks, tech giant Apple (AAPL) closed in the red, ending the day down by 2 percent ahead of the release of its fiscal second quarter results after the close of trading. However, after the bell, Apple said that its second quarter profit jumped 94 percent from last year, driven by strong sales of its iPhones and iPad multimedia devices. The company's quarterly earnings per share also breezed past expectations as did its quarterly revenue. The stock surged after hours.
Telecom giant AT&T (T) rose by 3.6 percent after reporting first quarter earnings that exceeded analyst estimates. Diversified manufacturer 3M (MMM) also closed higher after the Dow component reported better than expected first quarter earnings.
On the other hand, shares of Netflix (NFLX) came under pressure after the company reported a narrower than expected first quarter loss but forecast slower subscriber growth for its U.S. video-streaming service.
The major averages closed on opposite sides of the unchanged line. The NASDAQ fell 8.85 points or 0.3 percent to finish at 2,961.60, while the Dow rose 74.39 points or 0.6 percent to end at 13,001.56 and the S&P 500 climbed 5.03 points or 0.4 percent to 1,371.97.
by RTT Staff Writer
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