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Equities

Singapore shares slip ahead of Trump speech, Malaysia flat

SINGAPORE (NewsRise) - Shares in Singapore edged lower as investors remained on the sidelines ahead of Donald Trump's much-awaited address to U.S. Congress. Malaysian markets ended a rangebound session unchanged.

The city-state's FTSE Straits Times index slipped 0.4% to 3,096.61, its third straight session of losses. The FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI ended unchanged at 1,693.77.

Tuesday's weakness came even as U.S. stocks ground higher overnight, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average notching a 12th straight record close. Investor focus remains firmly on Trump's address to a joint session of U.S. Congress later tonight, where he is widely expected to outline his fiscal plans. The president promised a "big" boost to infrastructure spending when speaking to governors at the White House yesterday.

U.S. indexes have soared to fresh lifetime highs repeatedly in February after Trump said major tax reforms were in the offing. Singapore's Straits Times index and Malaysia's KLCI have risen over 1% each this month. The Malaysian ringgit is down 0.2% against the dollar this month, while the Singapore dollar has advanced 0.7%.

"There will be a few things that the market will hunt for in his address today. This includes tax, infrastructure and trade policies," said Jingyi Pan, an analyst at IG Markets. "Should the details, or the lack of, disappoint the markets, the hunt for safe havens may pick up."

Among major losers on Singapore, Global Logistic Properties slipped 2.9% to S$2.66 after it provided an update on its strategic review late Monday. The warehouse and distribution center operator said a special committee has evaluated various non-binding proposals and is in discussion with several shortlisted parties. The stock is still up almost 21% this year amid talks about a possible sale.

Olam International slipped 0.5% to S$2.05. Earlier Tuesday, the commodity trader said it swung to a profit in the fourth quarter after it recorded lower exceptional losses. Olam reported a profit of S$102.2 million in the December quarter, against a loss of S$269.5 million a year ago.

Jardine Cycle & Carriage jumped 6.2% to S$42.71. Shortly after markets closed Monday, the company reported a 1.6% increase in profit for the year ending Dec. 31. It said that outlook for 2017 "appears positive."

Singapore Technologies Engineering slipped 0.3% to S$3.68. The state-owned company said Hornbeck Offshore Services, which has claimed damages against its U.S. marine unit for alleged errors in design, has revised the amount of quantified damages higher to about $43.5 million. Singapore Technologies' unit has asserted counterclaims against Hornbeck for about $3.3m and will continue to defend its position.

In Malaysia, broadcaster Astro Malaysia Holdings led losses with a 2.4% slump to 2.85 ringgit.

CIMB Group Holdings added 0.6% to 4.97 ringgit, after it said December quarter net profit rose 3.5% to 854.4 million ringgit as compared to a year ago. Revenues climbed 6.7%.

IHH Healthcare, down over 5.5% in the prior four sessions amid earnings disappointment, rose 2.2% to 6.01 ringgit.

Malaysia Airport Holdings fell 0.3% to 6.48 ringgit despite turning a profit in the December quarter and upbeat outlook. The airport operator said "Malaysia's carriers' seat capacity for the immediate future provides a positive outlook for 2017."

--Kevin Lim and Nimesh Vora

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