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=ASIA MARKETS: Singapore, Malaysia Shares Extend Gains On Wall Street's Climb

KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 08) -- Singapore and Malaysia shares rose Thursday along with most Asian markets as Wall Street gained following conclusion of U.S. midterm elections that erased political uncertainty and boosted risk appetite.

The Straits Times Index ended 0.9% higher at 3093.24. Jardine Cycle & Carriage rose 3.7% in Singapore to extend Wednesday’s gain after reporting better-than-expected third-quarter earnings. In Malaysia, the FBM KLCI closed up 0.4% at 1721.42.

Equities are in a relief rally after a "lousy cocktail" of strong U.S. dollar and trade-related concerns, said Apex Investment Services Chief Executive Clement Chew. "There is some appreciation that a divided House historically is good for the stock market.”

The Nikkei Asia300 Index rose 0.5%. Overnight, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and other indices on Wall Street gained 2% or more after the midterm polls delivered a split Congress, pressuring the U.S. dollar.

“A weaker U.S. dollar, meanwhile, alleviated pressure on emerging markets,” said CMC Markets analyst Margaret Yang.

Malaysia also kept the benchmark overnight policy rate at 3.25% as widely anticipated at the final review of the year as it expects economic growth to remain strong amid slower inflation. Economists said interest rates in Malaysia will likely remain mostly steady through 2019.

The focus now shifts to the U.S. Federal Reserve and their guidance on interest rate hikes. The U.S. central bank is widely-expected to keep rates unchanged at a range of 2%-2.25% Friday, while setting the stage for a fourth rise in December.

Investors also shrugged off weaker profits at Hi-P International and Yangzijiang Shipbuilding, which rose 1.2% and 2.3% respectively, amid overall buoyant sentiment in Singapore.

Hi-P International’s net profit fell 11.9% in the third quarter to S$33.8 million ($24.7 million). Yangzijiang Shipbuilding (Holdings) meanwhile posted third quarter net profit of 778.6 million yuan (S$154 million), down 10% on year.

Bucking the trend, Singapore Telecommunications fell 1.9% after warning of a more challenging outlook following a 77% plunge in second quarter net profit to S$667 million due to the absence of one-time gains as well as weakness in regional currencies.

Frontken Corp., which services the semiconductor industry, rose 6% In Malaysia after posting a 65.3% jump in third-quarter net profit to 15.19 million ringgit ($3.65 million).

Revenue Group jumped 15.7% after the firm launched a digital payment terminal developed for Public Bank, Malaysia’s third-largest bank by assets.

Country Heights Holdings rose 2.3% in Malaysia after shareholders of the real estate developer voted to approve a proposed bonus issue and asset-backed cryptocurrency issuance.

- By Alexander Winifred and Joannah Perez,; +603-20267363
- Edited By Jason Ng
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- Copyright (c) 2018 Nikkei NewsRise Asia Pte Ltd.