Singapore, Malaysia stocks rise after Wall Street gains on Trump tax reform bets
SINGAPORE (Nikkei Markets) -- Singapore shares edged higher and Malaysia stocks climbed to almost two-year highs on Friday, following an overnight rally on Wall Street amid renewed optimism over U.S. tax reforms.
U.S. stocks rallied overnight after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, speaking at a policy summit in Washington, said the Donald Trump administration plans to reveal tax reforms "very soon." The remarks rekindled investors' hopes for tax cuts, a major factor in driving a rally in equities this year. However, following the collapse of the U.S. healthcare bill last month, expectations of the tax overhaul had been scaled back. The Nikkei Asia300 index was up 0.3%.
"Having pared back expectations around the issue to a minimum, some have bought into the idea that perhaps U.S. tax reform could be on the cards," Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG, said in a note. "With the French elections bearing down on markets, the bulls seem to be wrestling back some control here and despite the prospect of real volatility on Monday, there is hope that all will be well."
The first round of voting for French elections will be held this Sunday. The vote is being closely followed by investors amid fears that a victory for Marine Le Pen, who is in favor of taking France out of the European Union, could lend to more instability for the E.U. and global markets.
Singapore's FTSE Straits Times index rose 0.1% to 3139.83, after climbing 0.6% earlier in the day. Property developers UOL Group rose 3.1% and City Developments added 1.1%.
Keppel Corp. rose 0.2% after reporting a 23% increase in net income for the first quarter. Sembcorp Marine rose 0.3%. Brent crude prices were last up by 0.2% on Friday.
"Although the current environment for offshore & marine remains sluggish, we believe the stabilization in oil prices could provide an impetus for development expenditures to start again," RHB Research Institute Singapore said in a report. "As for now, we believe Keppel is well supported by its property and infrastructure division."
Singapore Exchange rose 0.3%. Late Thursday, the exchange operator reported a near 7% decline in fiscal third-quarter profit.
Capitaland Mall Trust slipped 0.5% after reporting unchanged distribution per unit of 2.73 Singapore cents a share, as traffic and sales at its malls dipped slightly.
The FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI rose 0.8% to 1,756.05, with banks leading the charge for a second day. CIMB Group Holdings, Malaysia's second-largest bank by assets, rose 2%. "We expect a progressive improvement in CIMB Group's net profit each quarter and remain optimistic on the group's prospects," brokerage Affin Hwang said. "Earnings recovery will be on track in 2017 with CIMB Niaga taking the lead, as asset quality stabilizes."
Heavyweight Malayan Banking climbed 3.5% and AMMB Holdings rose 2.8%.
Genting Malaysia rose 7% to a record amid continued optimism over its Genting Integrated Tourism Plan expansion.
British American Tobacco Malaysia fell 1.2% after reporting a 34% decline in first quarter profit. TA Securities cut the target price on the cigarette maker to 52.08 ringgit from 54.22 ringgit after the earnings missed expectations.
--Nimesh Vora and Kevin Lim
--Nikkei Markets is a real-time financial news service for South East Asia's markets published by Nikkei NewsRise Asia Pte Ltd, a Nikkei and NewsRise joint venture company. Nikkei Markets provides wide companies coverage in the region, including the Nikkei's Asia300 companies.