KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's blue chips extended their losses at the midday on Tuesday as the earlier relief rebound failed to gain momentum as the broader market continued to weaken while oil prices continued to trend lower.
At 12.30pm, the KLCI was down 7.07 points or 0.4 per cent to 1,771.2 and year-to-date, it is down 5.16 per cent and it is the worst performer.
Turnover was 1.129 billion shares valued at RM926.99mil. Losers beat gainers 480 to 251 while 293 counters were unchanged.
Investors were still licking their wounds after the 42 point slide on Monday on heavy foreign fund selling, led by oil and gas (O&G) counters, plantations and banks and they were not ready to bargain hunt in case of another selldown.
BAT fell the most, down RM2.14 to RM70.86 but Dutch Lady added 14 sen to RM45.24.
Crude palm oil for third month delivery rose RM29to RM2,138. Heavyweight Sime Darby added 15 sen to RM9.59.
However, KL Kepong fell 66 sen to RM21.80 and PPB Group 26 sen lower at RM15.06 while Harrison lost 20 sen to RM3.30 and Genting Plantations-WA was down 20 sen also to RM2.50.
Among the finance and banks, HLFG fell 48 sen to RM16.72, Hong Leong Bank 30 sen to RM13.98 but Hong Leong Capital added 10 sen to RM13.70.
US light crude oil fell 51 cents to US$68.49 and Brent lost 47 cents to to US$72.07.
UMW fell 22 sen to RM10.88 but its oil and gas subsidiary UMW O&G rose 15 sen to RM2.48.
KNM was the most active, unchanged at 47 sen while Bumie Armada added one sen to RM1.02 while Dialog gained four sen to RM1.30 and SKPetro three sen higher at RM2.54.
Hong Leong Investment Bank Research (HLIB) said the market is expected to remain volatile and subdued in the short to medium term.
It said the factors were continued earnings disappointments without catalysts as well as latest resurgence of fear about budget deficit or sovereign rating and selldown on the O&G sector.
"Amid the volatility, we continued to advocate buy on weakness with stock specific focus on those: 1) benefiting from sector upturn (construction and technology); 2) with resilient and visible growth; 3) relatively high dividend yield with defendable earnings; 4) M&A play; and 5) US$ beneficiaries.
"Our top picks are Astro, Gamuda, Inari, Maybank, Mitrajaya, Pharma, Quill, RHB Cap, Sasbadi and Vitrox," it said.
The US dollar firmed up against the US dollar to 3.4220 against 3.4340.
Among the key regional markets:
Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.1 per cent to 17,606.84;
Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 0.35 per cent to 23,449.24;
Shanghai's Composite Index rose 0.71 per cent to 2,699.14;
Taiwan's Taiex lost 0.87 per cent to 9,038.14;
South Korea's Kospi fell 0.16 per cent to 1,962.10 while
Singapore's Straits Times Index added 0.83 per cent to 3,333.12.