Trump tariff hike vow drags Asian equities lower

KUALA LUMPUR, May 6 — US President Donald Trump’s vow to hike tariffs on US$200 billion of Chinese goods last week to speed up the trade talks dragged down Asian equities, including Bursa Malaysia, at Monday’s close.

At 5pm, the benchmark FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI (FBM KLCI) slipped 4.5 points to 1,632.80 from Friday’s close of 1,637.30.

After opening 5.26 points weaker at 1,632.04, the benchmark index moved between 1,623.61 and 1,633.66 throughout the session. 

On the broader market, losers beat gainers 790 to 150 with 324 counters unchanged, 641 untraded and 33 others suspended.

Turnover fell to 2.79 billion shares worth RM1.70 billion from 2.82 billion shares worth RM2.11 billion on Friday.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 2.90 per cent to 29,209.82, Japan’s Nikkei 225 slipped 0.22 per cent to 22,258.73, the Jakarta Composite Index eased 0.99 per cent to 6,256.65 and Singapore’s Straits Times Index was 2.98 per cent weaker at 6,256.65.

“Trump, who calls himself “Tariff Man”, has vowed to increase tariffs on US$200 billion of goods to 25 per cent from 10 per cent, saying the long-standing trade dispute is progressing at a slow pace.

“As a result, China is considering cancelling the trade talks, which are supposed to take place this week,” a dealer said.

Last year, Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping agreed to a truce to boost the stock markets.

The world’s two largest economies have since 2018 imposed tariffs on US$360 billion in two-way trade.

“Markets will be left clueless, hence we expect cautious trading this week,” he added.

Back home, telecommunications providers Axiata Group Bhd and DiGi.Com Bhd were under the spotlight on Monday following the proposal between Axiata Group Bhd and Norway-based Telenor ASA to create a new global champion with discussions to combine their Asian operations under a new merged global entity, MergedCo.

Telenor has a 49 per cent stake in

In a filing to Bursa Malaysia, Axiata said both parties would work towards finalising an agreement within the third quarter of 2019, resulting in Telenor being the majority shareholder of MergedCo with an anticipated 56.5 per cent stake, with Axiata holding the remaining 43.5 per cent.

Locally, the merger of Celcom Axiata Bhd (Celcom) and Digi.Com Bhd will make the new entity the largest mobile operator in Malaysia.

This week, investors will also be focusing on the release of the first quarter of 2019 (Q1 2019) gross domestic product numbers due on May 16 and Bank Negara Malaysia’s monetary policy announcement on May 7.

Among heavyweights, Maybank rose four sen to RM9.30, Public Bank increased two sen to RM22.56, Petronas Chemicals dropped 15 sen to RM8.80 while both Axiata and Digi were flat at RM4.04 and RM4.52 respectively.

Shares of Axiata and DiGi were suspended from 9 am to 5 pm today due to the merger announcement. Trading resumes tomorrow at 9 am.

Of the actively-traded stocks, Ekovest fell 4.5 sen to 91 sen, Sapura Energy slipped 1.5 sen to 32 sen, while Lambo and Priceworth inched down half-a-sen to seven sen and nine sen, respectively.

The FBM Emas Index was 69.59 points lower at 11,542.17, the FBMT 100 decreased 55.78 points to 11,376.18 and the FBM 70 depreciated 169.08 points to 14,352.31.

 The FBM Emas Shariah Index was 94.91 points weaker at 11,684.86 and the FBM Ace Index lost 134.72 points to 4,511.74.

Sector-wise, the Financial Services Index was down 49.27 points at 16,883.66, the Industrial Products and Services Index was 2.22 points easier at 167.12 while the Plantation Index edged up 0.49 point to 7,202.36.

Main Market volume fell to 1.89 billion shares valued at RM1.52 billion from 2.02 billion shares valued at RM1.96 billion last Friday.

Warrants turnover increased to 568.18 million units worth RM132.91 million versus 404.02 million units worth RM91.14 million.

Volume on the ACE Market decreased to 324.63 million shares valued at RM52.67 million against 382.70 million shares valued at RM55.54 million.

Consumer products and services accounted for 182.89 million shares traded on the Main Market, industrial products and services (423.99 million), construction (445.74 million), technology (106.51 million), SPAC (nil), financial services (32.90 million), property (177.28 million), plantation (21.79 million), REITs (12.48 million), closed/fund (nil), energy (414.88 million), healthcare (17.39 million), telecommunications and media (16.57 million), transportation and logistics (17.87 million), and utilities (21.42 million). — Bernama

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