February 25, 2018, 10:05 am
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Most SE Asia stocks down

Most Southeast Asian stock markets fell on Wednesday as overnight losses on Wall Street hurt broader sentiment in Asia, with Singapore falling to its lowest in two weeks, weighed down by lenders.

US technology stocks stuttered yet again after a brief pickup, with investors switching to banks, retailers and other stocks who are seen likely to benefit from the US tax bill. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan shed 0.8 percent, as investors remained cautious to the extent of declines in the US market.

Singapore shares fell 0.6 percent, with top lenders, DBS Group Holdings, United Overseas Bank and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp posting losses in the range of 1.3 percent to 1.7 percent.

Malaysian shares slipped 0.4 percent, giving up the previous session’s gains, after data showed exports rose 18.9 percent in October, beating expectations, on the back of higher demand for manufactured and mining goods.

“2017 is ending as the best year for Malaysia’s trade and external surpluses since 2010,” Prakash Sakpal, Asia economist at ING, wrote in a note, adding that an undervalued currency was among the factors that provided favorable terms of trade.

“We expect Bank Negara Malaysia to be the next in line of Asian central banks to hike after the Bank of Korea, and we forecast a 25bp BNM rate hike in 1Q18,” Sakpal wrote.

Financials dragged the index lower, with Hong Leong Bank losing 5.4 percent, while Malayan Banking fell 1.4 percent.

Meanwhile, Indonesian shares rose 0.6 percent, with the index of the country’s 45 most liquid stocks climbing 0.8 percent.

Financial and consumer discretionary stocks aided the gains on the index, with Bank Central Asia Tbk PT and Astra International Tbk PT rising 1.7 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively. – Reuters 
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