Singapore, Malaysia end week at multi-month highs after Fed
SINGAPORE (NewsRise) -- Shares in Singapore and Malaysia ended the week at multi-month highs as regional sentiment improved after the U.S. Federal Reserve maintained its outlook for two more rate increases this year.
Asian markets received a shot in the arm as the Fed held off on upping the number of rate increases it expects to deliver this year and the next, even as it raised U.S. borrowing costs for the third time since the global financial crisis of 2008. The Nikkei Asia300 Index, which tracks over 300 companies across the region, rose 0.8% to 1,167.63.
Singapore's Straits Times Index rose 0.2% to 3,169.38 Friday, a fresh 19-month high. It rose 1.2% this week. The FTSE Bursa Malaysia advanced 0.5% to 1,745.20, its highest since June 2015. The index rose 1.6% for the week, led by an over 5% jump in casino operator Genting.
In Singapore on Friday, gains were also spurred by increased optimism that economic growth will pick up this year, after February exports came in much stronger than expected. The city-state's non-oil domestic exports rose 21.5% from a year ago, a pace that was more than double January's expansion of 8.6%. The increase was the fastest since exports began their recovery in November last year and nearly twice of what many economists had expected.
Singapore Telecommunications, the heaviest weighed stock on the gauge, was one of the day's most actively traded counters, rising 1% to S$3.99.
OCBC Investment Research, in a report on Friday, reiterated its "buy" call on Singtel with a price target of S$4.25, citing its increasing exposure to the fast-growing cyber security and digital marketing industries as well as its regional network of mobile operators that has made it less vulnerable as competition picks up in the city-state.
According to OCBC, Singapore's mobile phone providers are expected to step up marketing and promotion efforts this year in a bid to "lock in" customers on new contracts ahead of TPG Telecom's entry into the local market next year.
The city-state's developers continued to find support from the government's move to ease property cooling measures late last week. City Developments extended last week's more than 6% jump to add another 4.5% this week. UOL Group, which rose 6.2% last week, advanced 0.9% this week, while Capitaland eked out a 0.5% gain after adding nearly 5% last week.
Rig builders Keppel Corp and Sembcorp Marine remained under pressure as U.S. crude prices fell for seven sessions through Tuesday. Keppel eked out a 0.1% advance over the last five trading sessions after slumping more than 4% last week. Sembcorp Marine ended the week 0.8% lower, adding to last week's near 6% slide.
Lenders DBS Group Holdings and United Overseas Bank added over 1% and 2.6% this week. DBS Vickers said the rising interest rate environment will be positive for interest margins, with the impact likely to be seen from the second half of this year.
--Kevin Lim and Jason Ng