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Asia300

Malaysian shares slip tracking crude slump, Singapore rises

KUALA LUMPUR (NewsRise) -- Malaysian shares slipped Tuesday, weighed down by an overnight slide in crude prices and as ongoing uncertainty about Donald Trump's policies remained a drag on risk sentiment.

Shares in Singapore, however, extended gains to new 15-month highs, as property stocks and lenders gained ahead of the government's budget.

The FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI slipped 0.1% to 1,688.84 points. The index remains close to a five-month high. Concerns about Trump's protectionist policies are limiting gains, traders said, adding that strong psychological resistance at 1,700 levels is also preventing a decisive move higher.

Shares on Wall Street dipped overnight, as weak oil prices weighed on energy stocks and investors awaited details of Trump's economic policies. Upbeat investor sentiment amid hopes the president will boost fiscal spending and loosen regulations has been tempered by concerns about his trade protectionist measures. European shares declined amid increasing political uncertainty ahead of elections in France, the Netherlands and Germany.

"There has been somewhat of a risk-off tone to markets, although there doesn't seem to be a smoking gun and there really is no panic," said Chris Weston, market strategist at IG. "Another telling factor behind the slight risk-off feel has been the reasonable move lower in U.S. crude."

U.S. benchmark crude fell 1.5% and Brent crude declined 1.9% overnight. The safe-haven Japanese yen jumped 0.9% against the dollar on Monday as risk appetite thinned.

Malaysian oil services major SapuraKencana Petroleum slipped 2.7% to 1.80 ringgit.

On the KLCI, Westports Holdings slipped 1.9% to 4.18 ringgit, paring an advance of 3% chalked up in the last two sessions. The port operator reports earnings on Thursday.

Mobile operator Maxis, which reports earnings tomorrow, was up 0.8% at 6.25 ringgit.

In Singapore, the FTSE Straits Times index rose 0.5% at 3,071.64. City Developments added 1.3% to S$9.59, and heavyweight lenders United Overseas Bank and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation rose 1.6% and 0.9%, respectively, amid expectations the government will ease property cooling measures in its budget on Feb. 20.

DBS Group Holdings, which has the highest exposure to troubled offshore service provider Ezra Holdings, underperformed with a 0.4% decline to S$18.86.

Ezra shares were unchanged at three cents on Tuesday. The stock plunged more than 35% yesterday after the firm said in a filing on Friday that it may have to write off $170 million because of difficulties facing one of its joint ventures. Early Tuesday, Ezra said it received a notice of demand from one of its creditors whose lawyers have threatened to initiate winding up proceedings if the money is not paid within three weeks.

StarHub fell to multi-year lows, extending yesterday's near 7% slump following disappointing earnings to slip another 1.8% to S$2.75.

-Nimesh Vora and Kevin Lim

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