KUALA LUMPUR: Bursa Malaysia ended the morning session in negative territory in line with weaker regional peers, as profit taking activity emerged in selected heavyweights, dealers said.

At 12.30 pm, the key FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI (FBM KLCI) declined 1.24 points to 1,784.83, after moving between 1,783.33 and 1,788.47 throughout the morning session.

It opened 0.07 of-a-point higher at 1,786.14 against Wednesday's close of 1,786.07.

Market breadth turned negative as losers led gainers 404 to 339, with 333 counters unchanged, 757 untraded and 39 others suspended.

Turnover stood at 1.06 billion shares worth RM712.63 million.

A dealer said most Asian stocks retreated from earlier gains on soft Chinese data, which was largely weaker than what markets had anticipated, with investors also remaining cautious, ahead of the release of US inflation data later today.

China released its fixed-asset investment, factory output and retail sales data today, which turned out lower, reinforcing views that the world`s second-largest economy is gradually starting to lose steam in the face of rising borrowing costs.

Among top losers, Globetronics Technology and Scientex slid 32 sen each to RM6.02 and RM9.48, respectively, British American Tobacco declined 28 sen to RM44.02, while Malaysian Pacific slipped 16 sen to RM13.80.

For the heavyweights, Maybank was flat at RM9.70, Public Bank rose two sen to RM20.60, Sime Darby went up one sen to RM9.15, while TNB fell two sen to RM14.56.

Among active counters, MMAG Holdings and Land & General advanced one sen each to 20.5 sen and 23 sen respectively, while MLABS and Sino Hua-An earned half-a-sen each to 10.5 sen and 26 sen.

The FBM Emas Index was 0.75 of-a-point higher at 12,709.20, the FBM 70 rose 28.96 points to 15,194.36, the FBMT 100 Index eased 0.67 of-a-point to 12,369.90, the FBM Ace went down 33 points to 6,694.02 and the FBM Emas Shariah Index declined 7.82 points to 12,912.53.

Sector-wise, the Finance Index gained 25.40 points to 16,842.13, the Plantation Index shed 25.28 points to 7,959.29 and the Industrial Index rose 0.96 of-a-point to 3,240.46. -- BERNAMA

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