Singapore stocks retreat from 21-month high as banks fall; Malaysia shares little changed
SINGAPORE (Nikkei Markets) -- Singapore shares retreated from near 21-month highs as banking stocks and property developers paced declines. Malaysia shares ended little changed.
Singapore's FTSE Straits Times index fell 1.1% to 3,227.71, suffering its worst decline in almost two months. The losses were broad-based with 23 shares in the 30-stock gauge ending lower and 3 closing unchanged. United Overseas Bank dropped 1.7%, leading the fall in banking stocks. Among property developers, CapitaLand fell 3.1% and City Developments sank 2.4%.
Tuesday's decline comes after the benchmark index rallied almost 3% this month through Monday as global markets cheered the favorable French election outcome. Since the start of the year, the city-state's main gauge has added over 12% amid positive global risk sentiment spurred by optimism over U.S. economic policies.
"While we have not seen much of it till now, May is generally a weak month for equities. Also, the markets have anyways seen a strong run till now, and we are now seeing a bit of a pull back," said Joel Ng, head of research at KGI Securities Singapore. Referring to banking shares, Ng said: "the stocks have rallied after the first-quarter earnings, and now investors are taking a bit of money off the table."
The decline in property shares comes a day after data showed that new private homes in April fell 12.6% as compared with last month. UOL Group dropped 1.3%.
ComfortDelGro Corp. slipped 3.1%, extending Monday's decline, after its earnings missed estimates and at least two brokerages downgraded the stock.
Singapore Airlines fell 1.5%. The carrier said "competitive landscape remains challenging" after reporting late Monday that passenger load factor improved to 80.8% in April.
Hiap Seng Engineering slumped 9.6% after saying it expects to report a net loss for the fourth quarter ended in March.
The FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI fell less than 0.1% to 1,778.15. IHH Healthcare was the worst performer on the index with a 4.1% decline. Hong Leong Financial Group, up over 20% this year, fell 1.7%.
Petronas Gas jumped 6% to 19.7 ringgit after net income for the first quarter rose by 3.6% to 463.24 million ringgit ($107 million). Revenue rose 3.4% at 1.17 billion ringgit.
CIMB Investment Bank upgraded the stock to "hold" from "reduce" as it kept the target price at 19.90 ringgit. "The sharp decline in its share price has already fairly reflected the earnings risk faced by the stock," it said. The stock is down 13% year-to-date, the worst performing among KLCI constituents.
Iskandar Waterfront City ended a choppy session with a 7% fall, after rising by as much as 15% earlier in the day. Its parent Iskandar Waterfront Holdings can still be involved in the Bandar Malaysia project even after its deal for a stake in one of the country's largest developments lapsed, economic planning minister said Tuesday. Lim Kang Hoo, the largest shareholder of Iskandar Waterfront Holdings, is still "on the side of the government" when it comes to developing Bandar Malaysia, Abdul Rahman Dahlan told reporters in Kuala Lumpur. The company can still participate in the project, but the government wants "a better deal" for Bandar Malaysia as the project's value has increased.
Sime Darby ended unchanged at 9.33 ringgit. The world's largest palm oil producer by acreage said Tuesday that it had received bondholders' approval to restructure $800 million of Islamic bonds.
--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.