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Malaysia becomes Asia's worst stock market as election looms

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Malaysia's FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI Index has turned out to be the worst Asian equity gauge so far this year with less than 5 per cent growth.

[KUALA LUMPUR] Malaysia's FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI Index has turned out to be the worst Asian equity gauge so far this year with less than 5 per cent growth.  And an undetermined election date isn't helping.

Even as it received the most foreign inflows this year in Southeast Asia, the nation's benchmark measure has continued to lag behind all its major regional peers from Hong Kong to India - some of whose gauges have rallied more than 25 per cent this year. 

Malaysia is due for a general election by August 2018, but there's been speculation Prime Minister Najib Razak may call it sooner to capitalise on a feel-good budget and an opposition in disarray.

"There's some uncertainties weighing down the market, but there are also positive factors like oil, strong exports and the solid economic growth supporting it," Danny Wong Teck Meng, chief executive officer of Areca Capital Sdn., said by phone. Still, with earnings season in full swing, some surprises could provide catalysts for a more positive sentiment, he added.

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