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Lower Open Expected For Malaysia Stock Market

The Malaysia stock market has alternated between positive and negative finishes through the last seven trading days since the end of the five-day winning streak in which it had gathered almost 40 points or 2.2 percent. The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index now rests just above the 1,855-point plateau and it's in line for further damage on Thursday.

The global forecast remains soft thanks to concerns over interest rates and weakness in crude oil prices. The European and U.S. markets were down and the Asian markets figure to follow suit.

The KLCI finished modestly lower on Wednesday following losses from the financials, plantations and industrials.

For the day, the index sank 15.26 points or 0.82 percent to finish at the daily low of 1,856.20 after peaking at 1,872.02. Volume was 2.95 billion shares worth 3.63 billion ringgit. There were 812 decliners and 265 gainers.

Among the actives, AMMB Holdings plummeted 8.81 percent, while IJM Corporation plunged 6.21 percent, IHH Healthcare tumbled 3.27 percent, YTL Corporation skidded 2.72 percent, Telekom Malaysia dropped 2.16 percent, IOI Corporation retreated 2.09 percent, Kuala Lumpur Kepong surrendered 1.88 percent, Genting and Petronas Gas both shed 1.56 percent, CIMB Group lost 1.37 percent, Axiata fell 1.10 percent, Tenaga Nasional was down 0.38 percent, Petronas Chemicals dipped 0.37 percent, Sime Darby added 0.36 percent and Genting Malaysia, Maybank, Public Bank and Petronas Dagangan were unchanged.

The lead from Wall Street is broadly negative as stocks opened higher Wednesday but turned lower midway through the session to end firmly in the red for the second straight session.

The Dow plunged 380.83 points or 1.50 percent to 25,029.20, while the NASDAQ slumped 57.35 points or 0.78 percent to 7,273.01 and the S&P tumbled 30.45 points or 1.11 percent to 2,713.83.

The volatility came as traders expressed uncertainty about the outlook for interest rates after new Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell seemed to suggest that the Fed may raise rates more than the three times currently anticipated.

A disappointing batch of economic data may have partly offset the interest rate concerns as the Commerce Department noted slightly slower than estimated economic growth in the fourth quarter. Also, the National Association of Realtors showed a steep drop in pending home sales in January.

Crude oil prices fell Wednesday after the EIA said U.S. output jumped to a record high in November. A stronger dollar also dented oil prices. April WTI oil fell $1.37 or 2.2 percent to $61.64/bbl. Oil prices dropped more than 4 percent in February.

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