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PETALING JAYA: While resilient external demand and strong banking sector fundamentals provide key support, the market will struggle to find traction in the face of broadening growth and earnings stresses.
Maybank Investment Bank’s research arm said this was due to negative revisions stemming from an interrelated combination of margin squeeze and weakening end-demand.
“Policy flip-flops relating to subsidies have also raised market risk premium as the implied urgent fiscal situation will raise concerns about further earnings-sapping levies on the corporate sector akin to Cukai Makmur,” the research house told clients in a report.
In the report entitled “Malaysia 2H2022 Market Outlook Storm Warning”, it also said hopes of an early general election that would allow a reset in delivering optimal and expedited policy responses based on long-term economic realities now appeared unlikely.
On thematics, it said inflation and interest rates will dominate market direction.
Maybank noted however that the local market and other Asean benchmark indices as a whole had been relative outperformers on a year-to-date basis.,
Expansion in 2023 earnings is expected to be driven by the banking and transportation sectors
But macro challenges relating to surging inflation, sharply rising interest rates and growing recession risks that have weighed on developed markets are now catching up with this region.
“As evidenced during the mixed first-quarter 2022 reporting, operating margin pressures have been rising across a broad range of sectors, underpinned by increasing labour and raw material input costs, while a damaging combination of rising inflation and interest rates are eroding disposable incomes, and hence demand, into the second half of 2022,” it said.
The tight fiscal situation means concerns around the sustainability of current inflation-capping subsidies are a major market overhang, the latter made worse by policy inertia and more U-turns by a fractious governing coalition that has yet to signal readiness to go to the polls, it noted.
“We reduce our end-2022 FBM KLCI target to 1,500 points (from 1,710 points) and retain a balanced positioning, via a mix of value and growth stocks and continuing yield focus,” Maybank said.
In its report, TA Research was more positive, noting that corrections in the US equity markets had a negative repercussion on local equities, but the downside volatility was not expected to persist as the FBM KLCI had rebounded by only 40.4% to a high of 1,695.96 points post the 2020 slump of 1,207.80 points and gave back 51.6% of the gains when it closed at 1,444.22 points in June.