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Nikkei Markets

Malaysia, Singapore shares drop for fifth straight day

Slowing global growth raises fears for trade-dependent economies

KUALA LUMPUR (Nikkei Markets) -- Malaysia and Singapore shares extended losses through the fifth straight session amid broader weakness across Asian equities as spectre of slowing global growth haunt investors already rattled by the U.S.-China trade tensions.

The FBM KLCI ended 1% lower at 1663.31. Sime Darby Plantations declined 4.5%, the biggest index loser, after data showed Malaysia's palm oil inventory rocketed to a new record-high in November. The Straits Times Index also closed down 1.2% at 3072.44 with 27 out of 30 component stocks posting losses.

"For a month where investors typically look forward into the new year, it does appear that there may be less to cheer about going into the holiday period," said IG Asia Market Strategist Jingyi Pan.

Lower-than-expected Chinese trade data released over the weekend, a slowdown in the number of U.S. jobs added in November, as well as data showing the most contraction in Japan's gross domestic product in over four years during the third quarter have re-ignited global growth concerns.

That comes at a time when investors are still reeling from selldown in markets over rising tensions between U.S. and China following the arrest of a senior Huawei executive. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Sunday he considered March 1 "a hard deadline" to reach a deal with China.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index was down 1.5%, tracking sharp losses in U.S. shares on Friday. Major indices in Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan suffered declines of 1% or more.

In commodity news, plantation companies fell after data showed Malaysia's palm oil inventory expanded 10.5% in November from a month earlier to a record high of 3.01 million tons. Export fell 12.9% to 1.38 million tons compared with a 6.1% month-on-month decline in output at 1.85 million tons.

Apart from Sime Darby Plantations, IOI Corp fell 1.8% while Kuala Lumpur Kepong fell 1%. The broader Bursa Malaysia Plantation Index lost 2.2%.

Investors meanwhile shrugged off recovery in crude oil prices. Offshore rigbuilder Keppel Corp. fell 1.3% in Singapore while services firm Serba Dinamik Holdings lost 2.2% in Malaysia. February Brent crude oil futures rose 0.6% on Monday to $62.02 a barrel.

In corporate news, Top Glove lost nearly 6% in Malaysia following reports that Britain will investigate the world's biggest rubber glove producer over allegation of mistreatment of migrant workers. The dual-listed company fell 5.5% in Singapore.

Prestariang tumbled 33% after Malaysia's Home Minister said the government has scrapped the national immigration control system that costs 3.5 billion ringgit ($839.32 million). Prestariang is the concessionaire, although the company said it has yet to be informed about the project cancellation.

Singapore Telecommunications fell 0.6%. The company's Australian unit Optus announced it has acquired new regional licences in the 3.6 GHz spectrum band earmarked for 5G services.

- Joannah Perez and Jason Ng

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