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Asia300

Singapore stocks gain on real estate, banking rally,Malaysia shares hit 2-year high

SINGAPORE (Nikkei Markets) -- Singapore shares rose for the fifth day on Wednesday, helped by a rally in real estate and banking stocks. Equities in Malaysia, tracking overnight gains in Wall Street, climbed to fresh two-year highs.

U.S. stocks gained for a second day with Nasdaq closing at a record high as global risk appetite remained elevated following the outcome of the French election's first round. Investors also expect President Donald Trump to unveil his promised tax reforms on Wednesday. In an interview to Associated Press last Friday, Trump promised a "massive tax reform" for business and people "around Wednesday of next week." The Nikkei Asia300 index rose for the fourth day, adding 0.6%.

"It's a good time to hold equity," Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG, wrote in a note. "It seems a dark cloud in the form of the French elections has swiftly departed from the investment landscape, combining effectively with headlines on Trump tax reform and in turn providing fresh impetus to chase returns."

Singapore's FTSE Straits Times index rose 0.3% to 3,173.76, a two-week high. CapitaLand climbed 1.4% after reporting a 77% jump in profit after tax and minority interest for the first quarter. Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust added 2% after reporting a 13% jump in dividend per unit for the fourth quarter and a 2.4% increase in gross revenues.

"Despite the headwinds facing the industrial segment, Ascendas REIT is the best proxy among the big-cap REIT stocks due to its upbeat business parks segment," RHB Research said in a note. "Thus, we expect positive rental reversions to continue."

DBS Group Holdings added 0.6% and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. rose 0.5%, as U.S. bond yields headed higher for the third day Wednesday.

Singapore Press Holdings rose 0.6%. The company said late Tuesday it entered the healthcare sector with the acquisition of Orange Valley Healthcare for S$164 million ($118 million)

Singapore's manufacturing output rose 10.2% in March from a year ago, as strong growth in electronics more than offset continued weakness in the marine and offshore engineering cluster, the Singapore Economic Development Board said Wednesday. The pace of expansion was identical to February's revised growth of 10.2% and faster than the estimates of most economists.

The FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI rose 0.2% to 1,768.92, its fourth straight day of advance. Hong Leong Financial Group added 2%, and Malayan Banking and RHB Bank rose at least 0.9% each.

"The rating outlook for Malaysian banks is stable over the next 12-18 months as a gradual recovery in global growth is expected to lead to more stability in asset quality and profitability," Moody's Investors Service said Wednesday. Banks' asset risks are stabilizing on the back of improving macroeconomic conditions and their capitalization will remain sufficient to withstand asset quality shocks, even under various stress scenarios, it said.

Local bourse operator Bursa Malaysia rose 0.3% after reporting a 13% increase in first-quarter profit, driven by higher average daily trading value for on-market trades and direct business trades from the securities market.

Nestle Malaysia ended little changed at 82.46 ringgit. RHB Investment Bank changed its recommendation on the stock to "sell" from "neutral" following tepid earnings growth and unjustified premium valuation, even as it raised the target price to 73.70 ringgit a share from 72.90 earlier.

--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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