March 15, 2017 7:47 pm JST

Singapore, Malaysia shares slip ahead of US rate decision

SINGAPORE (NewsRise) - Shares in Singapore and Malaysia fell on Wednesday, as investors braced for a near-certain U.S. Federal Reserve rate increase and awaited clarity on the future pace of monetary tightening in the world's largest economy.

Singapore's FTSE Straits Times index slid 0.2% to 3,137.43 and the FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI declined 0.3% to 1,717.36. Most other Asian markets also fell Wednesday, tracking losses on Wall Street overnight. The Fed, which has raised rates only twice in the last decade, previously signaled it could increase U.S. borrowing cost thrice in 2017, but investors are now readying for possible indications of a faster pace of tightening. The Nikkei Asia300 index was flat at 1,140.80.

"A U.S. rate rise is now baked in to the market cake, with a small number of analysts now suggesting 0.5% is a risk," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets. "Any increase on the current indications of a further three hikes this year could disrupt equity markets."

Real estate-related stocks were among losers in Singapore, with City Developments falling 0.8% to S$10.23, UOL Group slipping 0.6% to S$6.83 and Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust shedding 0.8% to S$2.47. Property developers received a shot in the arm last week after the city-state's government announced measures to ease property cooling measures.

Data released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority on Wednesday showed developers in Singapore sold 977 private homes last month, more than two and half times the 382 units they sold in January and the 367 units transacted in December 2016. UOL's Clement Canopy in western Singapore, which moved 207 units at a median price of 1,343 Singapore dollars ($951) per square foot, was the top-selling project for the month.

Rig builder Sembcorp Marine fell 0.8% to S$1.85 as U.S. crude prices slipped overnight for the seventh straight day. The benchmark U.S. oil contract was last up 1.7%.

Hutchison Port Holdings Trust reversed Tuesday's entire advance to slide 2.5%. Yangzijiang Shipbuilding Holdings slipped 0.5%, but remains up 19% for the month so far.

Struggling oilfield services company Ezra Holdings, which has lost almost four-fifth of its value this year, requested a trading halt earlier Wednesday. The stock was unchanged at S$0.11 prior to the halt.

Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation advanced 0.3%. The lender said its 500 million euro ($532 million) covered bonds will bear a fixed interest of 0.25% and are expected to be listed on SGX-ST on March 22.

In Malaysia, heavyweight lenders CIMB Group Holding and Malayan Banking fell more than 1% each.

The benchmark KLCI index, which is headed for a fourth straight monthly advance, is facing some selling pressure around 1728 levels, Loui Low Ley Yee, an analyst at Hong Long Investment Bank said. If "it violates below the 10-day simple moving average at 1718, a further pull back may be seen towards the 1,700 level," he added.

SapuraKencana Petroleum, hurt by the fall in crude prices, slipped 1.1% to 1.80 ringgit. After markets closed Wednesday, the oil and gas major said its unit SapuraKencana Onshore sold 60% of its equity interest in King Hang Engineering for five million Hong Kong dollars ($643,600).

UMW Oil & Gas advanced 3.2% after saying late Tuesday that it was awarded a contract to provide a jack-up drilling rig to British oil company Petrofac.

"The announced contract will help UMWOG to achieve higher year-on-year rig utilization. However, the contribution from the contract is expected to be minimal and not material to turnaround the group's expected loss making in 2017 given its short tenure," said Lim Sin Kiat, an analyst at Hong Leong Investment Bank.

--Kevin Lim and Nimesh Vora

Asia300

City Developments Ltd.

Singapore

Market(Ticker): SES(C09)
Sector:
Industry:
Consumer Services
Hotels/Resorts/Cruiselines
Market cap(USD): 6,811.18M
Shares: 909.30M
Asia300

UOL Group Ltd.

Singapore

Market(Ticker): SES(U14)
Sector:
Industry:
Finance
Real Estate Development
Market cap(USD): 4,009.98M
Shares: 804.94M

Hutchison Port Holdings Trust

Singapore

Market(Ticker): SES(NS8U)
Sector:
Industry:
Transportation
Other Transportation
Market cap(USD): 3,571.55M
Shares: 8,711.10M
Asia300

Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. Ltd.

Singapore

Market(Ticker): SES(O39)
Sector:
Industry:
Finance
Regional Banks
Market cap(USD): 31,352.93M
Shares: 4,193.72M
Asia300

CIMB Group Holdings Bhd.

Malaysia

Market(Ticker): KLS(1023)
Sector:
Industry:
Finance
Regional Banks
Market cap(USD): 12,628.91M
Shares: 9,052.11M
Asia300

Malayan Banking Bhd.

Malaysia

Market(Ticker): KLS(1155)
Sector:
Industry:
Finance
Regional Banks
Market cap(USD): 22,353.04M
Shares: 10,264.45M
Asia300

Sapura Energy Bhd.

Malaysia

Market(Ticker): KLS(5218)
Sector:
Industry:
Industrial Services
Oilfield Services/Equipment
Market cap(USD): 2,665.66M
Shares: 5,992.15M

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