February 25, 2018, 6:06 am
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SE Asia stocks down

Most Southeast Asian stock markets traded within a tight range on Thursday as uncertainty over US government policies kept risk sentiment in check, with Singapore set to extend the previous session’s sharp decline.

Asian markets remained tentative after Wednesday’s slump, with MSCI’s broadest index of Asia- Pacific shares outside Japan hovering around a near two-month low.

Investors are looking to final tax reform legislation in the United States, where a potential US government shutdown looms if Congress fails to agree on a spending package.

Singapore shares fell 0.4 percent, after retreating 1.2 percent the previous day, on course for a sixth losing session in seven.

“Yesterday was quite bad… I guess it was part of the broader selloff. Probably in part following the US tax reforms passing the Senate. So I think now it’s just waiting for the next catalyst, which is the Senate and House having to reconcile their tax bill,” said Joel Ng, an analyst at KGI Securities in Singapore.

Losses in industrials and financial stocks outweighed strong gains in real estate stocks, with City Developments and CapitaLand Commercial Trust rising over 2 percent.

“They are probably range-bound at this level, so I think you are starting to see investors coming in, in view of the positive outlook over the next few years for property,” Ng added.

Meanwhile, Philippine stocks inched up 0.3 percent, led by gains in telecom and energy stocks, with PLDT Inc and Semirara Mining and Power Corp rising 2.2 percent and 7 percent, respectively.

Malaysian shares rose 0.1 percent, with Sime Darby Plantation rising 4.3 percent. – Reuters
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