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Asia300

Singapore, Malaysia rebound as markets look past Trump healthcare bill

SINGAPORE (NewsRise) -- Shares in Singapore and Malaysia rose on Tuesday, tracking a rebound in most regional markets as investors focused on U.S. fiscal stimulus plans after President Donald Trump's healthcare bill failed.

The Nikkei Asia300 index, a gauge of more than 300 of Asia's most influential companies, rose 0.9%, and futures pointed to a higher opening on Wall Street. Some analysts said investor focus may turn back to steadying U.S. economic growth and hopes of tax reforms after the healthcare bill fiasco.

"Markets appear reluctant to take the Trump disappointment too much further at this stage," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets. "The significant correction that has already occurred in bonds and the U.S. dollar may reflect an adequate wind back of the market's Trump exuberance."

Yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note was trading at a one-month low after having fallen more than 20 basis points over the last two weeks. The dollar index is at an over four-month low.

Singapore's FTSE Straits Times index rose 1% to 3,157.83 for its best single-day performance since early January. Singapore Exchange added 2% to S$7.71 after CIMB upgraded the stock to "buy" and raised its target price to S$8.09, citing improved market liquidity, better retail participation and a healthy pipeline of initial public offerings.

Banking stocks contributed heavily to Tuesday's gains, with DBS Group Holdings rising 1.7%, while Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. and United Overseas Bank added at least 0.5% each.

Singapore Post added 0.8% after saying late Monday its postal license was renewed for 20 years, effective April 1, 2017. SingPost also said it signed a pact with CapitaLand Mall Asia for the management of a retail mall at the new SingPost center.

The FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI rose 0.5% to 1,754.42, with 25 of the 30 stocks on the gauge closing higher. Petronas Dagangan surged 4.5% to lead the index higher. Among lenders, RHB Bank was the top performer with gains of 3.1%, while Hong Kong Financial and AMMB Holdings added 2.5% each. CIMB Group Holdings ended 1.1% lower, after rising 1.8% earlier. The lender plans to reach a "definitive" deal with China Galaxy International Financial Holdings on a proposed joint venture in the stockbroking business by the second quarter. Tuesday's loss trimmed the stock's monthly advance to 11.9%.

With the index up 3.6% this month and on course for its best month in a year, some analysts expect near time upside to be capped by profit taking.

"Investors on the local front could look for opportunities to lock in profits after a good rally," said Loui Low Ley Yee, an analyst with Hong Leong Investment Bank. "The KLCI could take a breather towards the support of 1,730-1,740 as traders may deploy a wait-and-see strategy over the near term."

Tenaga Nasional eked out a 0.3% advance after saying it signed a memorandum of understanding with French power company Electricite de France for a knowledge sharing collaboration.

Top Glove Corp shares were unchanged at 4.99 ringgit, after rising as much as 1% earlier. The glove maker plans to form a joint venture with Japan's Fimatec to produce a reinforcement agent for manufacturing gloves.

Astro Malaysia Holdings rose 1.8% ahead of its earnings. Shortly after markets closed, the broadcaster said fourth-quarter net profit fell almost 29% due to higher costs, while revenue was little changed at 1.39 billion ringgit.

--Nimesh Vora and Kevin Lim

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