Barefoot Investor: Asian markets ease off as Japan downgrade weighs

The early advance at most key regional markets was short-lived on Wednesday, Aug 24 as a one-notch cut of Japan’s credit rating grimly reminded investors that all is not well yet.

At 10am, the FBM KLCI was up 0.94 of a point to 1,483.31. Gainers edged losers by 203 to 177, while 196 counters traded unchanged. Volume was 183.47 million shares valued at RM253.34 million.

At the regional markets, Japan’s Nikkei 225 gave up its earlier gains and was down 0.19% to 8,716.76. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 0.61% to 19,754.75, Taiwan’s Taiex down 0.42% to 7,518.42, South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.57% to 1,766.42, Singapore’s Straits Times Index lost 0.42% to 2,753.49 while the Shanghai Composite Index edged up 0.17% to 2,558.25.

Markets had started on a firmer note, as investors were encouraged by the overnight rally at Wall Street, which was spurred on by hopes of further economic stimulus in the US.

But the gains were short-lived after Moody's Investors Service cut its rating on Japan's government debt by one notch to Aa3 on Wednesday, blaming a build-up of debt since the 2009 global recession and the revolving-door leadership that has hampered effective economic strategies.

The downgrade, while not out of the blue, served as another reminder of the debt burdens that nearly all of the world's major advanced economies shoulder, according to Reuters.

The United States lost its top-tier AAA rating from Standard & Poor's earlier this month and Moody's warned in June that it may downgrade Italy.

At Bursa Malaysia, Panasonic was the top gainer at mid-morning and rose 40 sen to RM23.40; Pintaras was up 14 sen to RM2.34, Petronas Dagangan 12 sen to RM17.28, Apollo and Kossan 11 sen each to RM2.96 and RM2.89, Batu Kawan and Parkson 10 sen each to RM15.80 and RM5.70, Amway nine sen to RM9 and Kwantas eight sen to RM2.

AirAsia and MAS were actively traded and fell after both reported their results on Tuesday and said the fuel costs would impact their future earnings. Airasia fell 12 sen to RM3.50 with 6.3 million shares traded while MAS lost four sen with 4.05 million shares done.

Other actives included Tanco, Timecom, CIMB, Perdana and MUI.(

Decliners g included Malayan Flour Mills, PPB, YTL Cement, KLK, GAB, MISC and JobStreet.


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