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Malaysia Bourse Expected To Be Rangebound

The Malaysia stock market has finished lower in three straight trading days, sliding more than 15 points or 1 percent along the way. The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index now rests just beneath the 1,685-point plateau and it's looking at a steady start on Friday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is mixed, with bargain hunting and interest rate optimism offset by tumbling crude oil prices and trade concerns, The European markets were down and the U.S. bourses ended mixed - and the Asian markets figure to follow the latter lead.

The KLCI finished slightly lower on Thursday as losses from the plantations and entertainment stocks were offset by gains among the telecoms and industrials.

For the day, the index dipped 4.93 points or 0.29 percent to finish at 1,683.34 after trading between 1,670.88 and 1,686.49. Volume was 2 billion shares worth 1.9 billion ringgit. There were 588 decliners and 259 gainers.

Among the actives, Digi.com surged 3.73 percent, while Sime Darby plummeted 2.69 percent, Telekom Malaysia soared 1.97 percent, Genting plunged 1.87 percent, Genting Malaysia tumbled 1.37 percent, Tenaga Nasional skidded 1.15 percent., Maxis advanced 0.93 percent, Petronas Chemicals added 0.65 percent, Maybank collected 0.21 percent and CIMB Group, Public Bank, PPB Group and Petronas Dagangan were unchanged.

The lead from Wall Street is mixed as stocks shrugged off a sharply lower open on Thursday, rebounding to finish mixed.

The Dow shed 79.40 points or 0.32 percent to 24,947.67. while the NASDAQ added 29.83 points or 0.42 percent to 7,188.26 and the S&P 500 fell 4.11 points or 0.15 percent to 2,695.95.

The rebound was partly attributed to reports that Federal Reserve officials are considering a "wait-and-see mentality" after a likely interest rate hike later this month. Traders also went bargain hunting following the early sell-off.

In economic news, payroll processor ADP said private sector employment increased less than expected in November. Also, the Labor Department said first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits fell less than expected in the week ended December 1.

The Commerce Department reported that the U.S. trade deficit widened to its highest level in ten years in October. Also, the Institute for Supply Management noted acceleration in the pace of growth in service sector activity in November.

Crude oil prices drifted lower Thursday as OPEC postponed a decision about output reduction to later today. Crude oil futures for January ended down $1.40 or 2.7 percent at $51.49 a barrel, after declining to a low of $50.11 a barrel.

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