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Nikkei Markets

Malaysia, Singapore shares little changed in thin trade

Investors monitor domestic corporate news for fresh cues

KUALA LUMPUR (Nikkei Markets) -- Malaysia and Singapore shares held steady in thin trade Thursday as investors retreated to the sidelines monitoring domestic corporate news ahead of Thanksgiving market holiday in the U.S.

The FBM KLCI ended little changed at 1695.62. Sime Darby rose 2.5% following better-than-expected first-quarter earnings. The Straits Times Index closed 0.1% higher at 3041.38. Singapore Airlines gained 0.5% after the carrier said its low-cost unit Scoot will acquire some SilkAir's routes.

"I'm still on the cautious side," said Muamalat Invest Head of Investment Mohd Faruk Abdul Karim, noting that investors are expected to step away from the market ahead of December holidays. "I'm not buying, but looking to sell on strength."

The Nikkei Asia300 Index was flat. The S&P 500 Index rose 0.3% overnight, its first gain in three days after erasing its gains for 2018 earlier in the week. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 0.9%, while Dow Jones Industrial Average was largely flat.

Trading in U.S. financial markets will resume on Black Friday but will end early. Investors are also cautious, looking for fresh developments on bilateral trade with U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping scheduled to attend a G20 summit later this month.

"There is little macro data to guide Asia Pacific investors today," said Michael McCarthy, Chief Market Strategist for CMC Markets and Stockbroking. Still, strength in commodity markets and technical buying on the bounce off lows may spur further gains, he said.

Oil-and-gas stocks fell in Malaysia, tracking a 0.5% drop in Brent crude futures on the Intercontinental Exchange. Reach Energy and Hibiscus Petroleum, which own production assets, fell 3.9% and 2.8%, while oil-and-gas services firm Dialog Group fell 0.6%.

In corporate news, Malaysia Airports Holdings rose 0.6% a day after posting stronger-than-expected third-quarter earnings. The company, which operates the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, more than doubled its net profit thanks to write-back in provision for debts and lower costs.

Malaysian construction firm Benalec Holdings advanced 2.6% after announcing sale of four land parcels for 53.35 million ringgit ($12.73 million).

AirAsia X lost 4.2% in Malaysia after posting a wider net loss in the third quarter weighed by higher oil prices. Courier company Pos Malaysia plunged 19.4% after swinging to a net loss in the second quarter dragged by higher operating expenses.

In Singapore, Sembcorp Industries edged 0.4% higher after the company said one of its units signed an agreement to sell its entire 60% stake in Sembcorp EOSM for S$7.4 million ($5.4 million).

Banyan Tree Holdings ended flat after the resort-and-hotel firm announced that a unit had sold its stake in a joint venture with China Vanke for S$78.6 million.

- Alexander Winifred and Joannah Perez

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