Singapore, Malaysia stocks post weekly losses as U.S. political turmoil damps risk appetite
SINGAPORE (Nikkei Markets) -- Singapore shares suffered their worst weekly fall this year, as risk appetite soured amid investor concerns over the fallout of the ongoing U.S. political turmoil. Malaysia stocks too declined for the week.
Risk assets fell out of favor and volatility increased this week as investors considered the possible ramifications of President Donald Trump's political woes on his ability to deliver on his economic promises. A report by the New York Times alleged the President tried to hold back former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey from probing Trump's previous national security advisor's links with Russia. Comey was fired by Trump last week. The President was already under the spotlight because of a report that he passed on classified information to Russia.
On Thursday, Trump denied the allegations that he had interfered with the investigation. In a Twitter post, he criticized the appointment of a new special counsel to investigate his campaign links with Russia, calling it "the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history."
"For the markets, the impact from this damage control may be limited, and the focus will likely be on the potential appearance by Comey before the Congress," said Jingyi Pan, a market strategist at Melbourne-based IG.
The U.S Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee this week invited Comey to testify.
Singapore's FTSE Straits Times index fell 0.2% to 3,216.92 on Friday, extending its decline this week to 1.2%.
ComfortDelGro Corp. lost 10% this week, its worst performance since 2008, after its quarterly earnings missed estimates, prompting at least two brokerages to downgrade the stock. The shares ended unchanged at S$2.42 on Friday.
UOL Group fell 3% this week, weighed by broader market weakness and after the property developer reported a net income increase of 4% for the March quarter. The stock, however, rose 0.4% on Friday.
Genting Singapore was the best performer this week, rallying 6.5% after net income jumped 17 times in the first quarter. On Friday, the stock was unchanged at S$1.15.
Singapore Airlines slumped 7.3% on Friday after reporting a net loss of S$138.3 million ($99.5 million) as compared with a profit a year ago. Revenue was little changed at S$3.72 billion. The carrier paid a final dividend of 11 cents a share. Its total dividend for fiscal 2017 stood at 20 cents per share as compared with 45 cents in 2016. Since last Friday, the stock has fallen 7.6%.
Singapore airport services company SATS rose 1% on Friday to reverse accumulated losses for the week, after fourth-quarter profit increased 31.4% to S$66.6 million, thanks to contributions from overseas operations.
Global Logistic Properties, which operates warehouses and other logistics facilities around the world, rose 1% on Friday after reporting a 62% increase in fiscal fourth quarter net profit, helped by revaluation gains on its properties in Japan, U.S. and Brazil. The stock added 1.7% this week.
The FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI rose less than 0.1% to 1,768.28 on Friday, helping it pare its decline this week to 0.4%. Gross domestic product in Southeast Asia's third-largest economy grew at a faster-than-expected 5.6% between January and March from a year earlier, the department of statistics said. That compares to the fourth quarter's 4.5% print and a median 4.8% on-year expansion estimate in a Nikkei Markets poll of analysts.
Also on Friday, Malaysia's balance of payments data showed surplus on current account narrowing to 5.3 billion ringgit ($1.2 billion) in the first quarter compared with 12.5 billion ringgit in the previous quarter.
IHH Healthcare was the worst performing stock this week on the KLCI, falling 2.7%. On Friday, the stock closed 0.3% lower. After market close, the hospital operator reported net profit in the first quarter doubled to 470 million ringgit.
IOI Corp. fell 0.4% on Friday to extend its losses for the week to 2.4%. The plantation major reported a 58% decline in fiscal third-quarter profit on Tuesday.
Petronas Dagangan rose 2.8% on Friday after first-quarter profit rose by 15.4%. For the week, the stock rose 3.2%.
Petronas Gas rose 2.2% this week, after reporting a 3.6% rise in net income for the first quarter. The shares were little changed at 19 ringgit on Friday.
SIG Gases jumped 5.1% on Friday after Focus Malaysia newspaper reported, citing a person it didn't identify, that Germany's Linde Group, which plans to invest about 2 billion ringgit in Malaysia within five years, could buy a stake in company.
Tambun Indah Land fell 2.6% to 1.49 ringgit on Friday after JF Apex Securities downgraded the stock to "hold" from "buy," on lower new property sales and earnings assumption. It kept the target price at 1.64 ringgit a share.
--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.