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Malaysia Bourse May Inch Lower Again On Friday

The Malaysia stock market has finished lower in three straight sessions, sliding almost 20 points or 1.2 percent along the way. The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index now rests just beneath the 1,625-point plateau and it may see continued if mild consolidation again on Friday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is wait and see ahead of the start on earnings season; a tumble in crude oil prices provides a negative bias as the European and U.S. markets were mixed and roughly flat.

The KLCI finished modestly lower on Thursday following losses from the financial shares and plantation stocks.

For the day, the index shed 15.23 points or 0.93 percent to finish at 1,624.23 after trading between 1,622.45 and 1,639.33. Volume was 3.6 billion shares worth 2.3 billion ringgit. There were 620 decliners and 275 gainers.

Among the actives, Tenaga Nasional plummeted 4.13 percent, while Malaysia Airports Holdings plunged 2.07 percent, Sime Darby Plantations tumbled 1.75 percent, Genting skidded 1.62 percent, Genting Malaysia dropped 1.57 percent, Dialog Group retreated 1.54 percent, Axiata declined 1.45 percent, IHH Healthcare shed 0.89 percent, IOI Corporation lost 0.88 percent, Sime Darby advanced 0.46 percent, Petronas Chemicals and Top Glove both fell 0.44 percent, CIMB Group dipped 0.39 percent, Maybank eased 0.22 percent, Public Bank was down 0.09 percent and Digi.com, Kuala Lumpur Kepong, Hartalega Holdings and Petronas Gas were unchanged.

The lead from Wall Street offers little clarity as stocks fluctuated on Thursday before ending mixed and little changed.

The Dow shed 14.11 points or 0.05 percent to end at 26,143.05, while the NASDAQ fell 16.88 points or 0.21 percent to 7,947.36 and the S&P 500 added 0.11 points to finish at 2,888.32.

Traders seemed reluctant to make significant moves ahead of the upcoming earnings season, as analysts expect results to be disappointing. Financial giants JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Wells Fargo (WFC) are due to report results later today, marking the unofficial start of the reporting season.

Lingering uncertainty about the global economic outlook and a potential U.S.-China trade deal also kept traders on the sidelines.

In economic news, the Labor Department said first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits fell to their lowest level in nearly 50 years last week. Also, the Labor Department said a spike in energy prices contributed to a bigger than expected increase in U.S. producer prices in March.

Crude oil futures tumbled on Thursday on worries about a possible drop in demand for crude due to slowing global economy. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for May ended down $1.03 or 1.6 percent at $63.58 a barrel.

Closer to home, Malaysia will provide February employment data later today; in January, the jobless rate was 3.3 percent and the participation rate was 68.6 percent.

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