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Asia300

Singapore, Malaysia stocks fall ahead of key US data releases

SINGAPORE (Nikkei Markets) - Shares in Singapore and Malaysia fell Monday as investors awaited a slew of U.S. economic data releases this week.

The S&P 500 index closed marginally higher on Friday after data showed that the U.S. economy grew a better-than-expected 1.2% in the first quarter. However, the expansion was slower than the 2.1% growth in the previous three months. The Federal Reserve's latest meeting minutes revealed that most policymakers are looking for more evidence that the first-quarter slowdown was temporary. U.S. personal income and spending data, consumer confidence and manufacturing and non-farm payrolls are due this week.

"Muted (U.S.) market action on Friday night, holidays in the U.K. and U.S. tonight and a data deluge starting tomorrow all militate against major market moves," Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets, wrote in an e-mail. U.S. markets are closed for Memorial Day while U.K. markets are closed for the Spring Bank Holiday.

Singapore's FTSE Straits Times index fell 0.2% to 3,214.55. Amongst notable losers on Monday, Golden Agri-Resources dropped over 5% and Thai Beverage and City Developments lost 1.1% each. CapitaLand Commercial Trust was the day's top performer with a 1.2% advance.

Singapore Technologies Engineering fell 1.6%. It said late Friday that its unit will inject $3.5 million capital into 50% jointly controlled company Total Engine Asset Management.

StarHub rose 0.4%. After markets on Friday, the company said it will acquire a 51% stake in Accel Systems & Technologies S$19.4 million ($14 million).

Construction and engineering company Ley Choon Group Holdings surged 20% after saying on Monday that it returned to a profit in the fiscal fourth-quarter and full-year 2017 thanks to more revenue from public-works contracts, reversal of impairment losses and profits from sale of property.

Industrial freight company Chasen Holdings rose 3.9% after swinging to fiscal fourth-quarter and full-year 2017 net profits, helped by higher revenue from specialist relocation and third-party logistics in the U.S., Thailand, Malaysia and China.

The FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI fell 0.4% to 1,764.89. Hong Leong Financial Group slipped 1.6% to trim its advance this year to 15%. Earlier Monday, the company reported a 33% increase in net profit for the fiscal third quarter.

Genting was the top loser in the index, slipping 2.1% ahead of its earnings on Tuesday. Its unit Genting Malaysia, which also reports earnings on Tuesday, was the day's best performer with a 1.5% advance.

Affin Holdings fell 3.5% to 2.76 ringgit after first-quarter net profit missed market expectations. UOB Kay Hian said in an investor note that "asset quality deteriorated significantly while loans-loss coverage fell sharply to 38%, by far the lowest in the industry." It cut the stock rating to "sell" and lowered the target price to 2.55 ringgit.

Willowglen MSC jumped 5% to a record on a news report that the company is leading the bid for a 400 million-ringgit contract related to Light Rail Transit Bandar Utama-Klang project. The Edge newspaper, citing an unidentified person, reported the company's joint venture with China's Huawei is selected by state-owned Prasarana Malaysia and recommended to the Ministry of Finance for final approval.

Alam Maritim Resources plummeted 16.4% after company said they need to restructure their debt due to weak operating environment.

--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.

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