KUALA LUMPUR (June 22): The FBM KLCI could end the week on weaker note on Friday in line with the global retreat, as worries of a global economic slowdown have resurfaced and weighed on investor sentiment.
Rising concern about global growth triggered falls in shares and commodities on Thursday after data showed Chinese and European factory activity slowing, a day after the Federal Reserve extended its stimulus policy due to a weakening US recovery, according to Reuters.
In Europe, preliminary manufacturing and service sector data across the 17-nation euro area showed the downturn in the private sector was becoming entrenched as falling orders and rising unemployment hit confidence, it said.
The FBM KLCI managed to barely stay above the crucial 1,600-point level on Thursday, but that too could change for the worse on Friday. Among the stocks that could be in focus are oil and gas-related counters, HOCK SENG LEE BHD  (HSL), MALAYSIAN AIRLINE SYSTEM BHD  (MAS) and AIRASIA BHD .
Oil and gas-related and support service providers could attract some interest after national oil company Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) said some US$5.2 billion (RM16.48 billion) would be invested in the North Malay Basin project, a new integrated gas development in Peninsular Malaysia.
In a statement on Thursday, Petronas said it had inked three main contracts with Petronas Carigali Sdn Bhd and Hess Exploration and Production Malaysia BV (Hess) that would pave the way for the implementation of the North Malay Basin project.
It said the first contract was the amended Production Sharing Contract (PSC) for offshore Block PM302, while the other two contracts are new exploration PSCs for Blocks PM325 and PM326B adjacent to Block PM302.
All three PSCs are on a 50:50 equity split between Petronas Carigali and Hess, it said. Petronas said the project was part of its overall efforts, including the various enhanced recovery initiatives, to enhance the security of gas supply situation in the country.
HSL has secured a contact worth RM26 million from the Ministry of Industrial Development Sarawak for the Infrastructure works at Demak Laut Industrial Park in Kuching. The company said on Thursday that the scope of works for the project included earthworks, sandfilling, water reticulation, drainage, road and associated works.
It said the works of the Project were due to be completed by January 2014. The contract is expected to contribute positively to the earnings and net assets of HSL Group for the financial years ending 2012 to 2014.
MAS has renewed its business turnaround plan, which may include job cuts in the long run, in its bid to return to profitability in 2014, a year later than initially planned, said its managing director and chief executive officer Ahmad Jauhari Yahya.
Its target including its Cost per Available Seat Kilometre (CASK) by 20% and increase revenue revenue per Available Seat Kilometre (RASK) by 10%, he said on Thursday. The national carrier also plans re-aligned capacity and increase utilisation of its aircraft from 9 hours currently to 11 hours, he said.
Meanwhile, AirAsia Bhd proposed to begin an annual dividend policy for its shareholders, Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said. "We're in a healthy cash position now, so we think it is fair to have an annual dividend policy for our shareholders," he said after the group's annual general meeting on Thursday. Previously, the group had declared a special dividend annually.