FOREIGN investors continued to exit Bursa Malaysia with the amount of outflow almost tripling to RM422 million between Monday and Thursday, from RM146 million in the same period a week earlier with issues on the US-China trade deal still dominating the market.

Bank Islam chief economist Dr Mohd Afzanizam Abdul Rashid said the benchmark FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI (FBM KLCI) index was traded mostly lower during the week in tandem with the performance of regional bourses.

“Issues surrounding the trade war remained at the centre stage.

“The Hong Kong Bill signed by the US President suggests that the prospect for a swift trade resolution could face a speed bump.

“This could undermine global growth should the trade discussion stalls.

“Therefore, investors would be watching closely whether the US will continue to press ahead with a tariff hike on December 15, 2019,” he told Bernama.

The US President Donald Trump signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act into law last Wednesday, aimed at backing the pro-democracy movement, with Beijing threatening “strong measures” over the move by Washington.

This week, Bursa Malaysia closed broadly lower on Monday and Tuesday amid lack of catalysts but ended higher on Wednesday, boosted by buying momentum in selected heavyweights on news that negotiations to conclude a trade deal between the US and China remained on track.

However, the local bourse fell again on Thursday and Friday.

Meanwhile, Inter-Pacific Securities Sdn Bhd head of research Pong Teng Siew said foreign investors were generally on buying mode for quite a long period from January 2017 up to May 2018 but began to offload local equities in a consistent manner after the 14th General Election.

“I would infer from the timing that the local political noise could also affect sentiment,” he noted.

According to Pong, the local bourse also saw a big sell down on Friday, with the FBM KLCI dipping 22.03 points or 1.4% to finished at 1,561.74, mainly attributed to the month-end portfolio rebalancing by foreign funds, which would drive significant selling activities in the market.

Rebalancing – where investors buy or sell in bulk – is occasionally carried out by foreign funds at month’s end but Pong does not expect it to follow through into next week.

Among the stock’s development for the week just ended, Pong highlighted the exclusion of Pentamaster Corp Bhd, one of the largest technology stocks on Bursa from the Securities Commission’s Shariah-compliant list, which weighed on the sector’s sentiment.

Another big-cap company, the utility giant Tenaga Nasional Bhd, grappling with an Inland Revenue additional tax bill of RM3.98 billion for the years 2015 to 2017, also contributed to the fall of the barometer index, he added.

– Bernama