KUALA LUMPUR (Nikkei Markets) -- Malaysian shares edged higher to a more-than-three-year high on Tuesday, led by energy related companies. Singapore stocks ended little changed.
Malaysia's FBM KLCI index rose 0.1% to 1,880.49, the highest since Nov. 7, 2014. In Singapore, the Straits Times Index closed at 3,498.20.
The overall technical picture for Malaysia's market has been improving, analysts at Kenanga Investment Bank and Maybank Investment Bank said. The `decisive' breakout above 1,880 could push the index toward its next resistance level at 1,910 points, Kenanga said. Loui Low, head of retail research at Hong Leong Investment Bank, said the index could further rally to its all-time high of 1,896 points.
Petronas Dagangan, which operates Malaysia's largest network of gasoline stations, advanced 2.7% to a four-year high of 26.78 ringgit. CIMB Investment Bank upgraded the stock to 'add' and raised the target price to 29.23 ringgit. Rising oil prices could lead to inventory profits and boost earnings of the company, analyst Raymond Yap said. Petronas Gas and Petronas Chemicals Group rose 3% and 0.7%, respectively.
Brent crude prices rose Tuesday to near their highest levels in more than three years. On Monday, Citigroup raised its 2018 forecast for Brent crude by $5 to $6 per barrel, to an average $65 per barrel.
Sime Darby Plantations and Kuala Lumpur Kepong dropped 0.7% and 0.2%, respectively, as palm oil futures fell to a one-month low, dragged by reports of weaker export growth.
IHH Healthcare lost 0.2%. The Times of India reported Tuesday that the hospital operator could make a hostile bid for India's Fortis Healthcare if its board rejects an initial takeover offer. IHH had launched a non-binding offer for Fortis valuing it at 160 rupees a share after Manipal Hospitals raised its offer for Fortis to 156 rupees a share, from 121 rupees a share.
"Because Fortis has already entered into binding agreements with Manipal and TPG (Asia), IHH would have to meaningfully raise its offer and convince the Fortis Board its value proposition is superior," Maybank analyst John Cheong said.
Stock exchange operator Bursa Malaysia added 2.8%. Strong inflows of foreign funds into Malaysian equities could boost Bursa's first-quarter earnings due next week, AmInvestment Bank analyst Kelvin Ong said.
Salcon, a wastewater engineering firm, advanced 2.4% on a plan to issue bonus shares and free warrants as part of a fund-raising exercise.
In the U.S., the S&P 500 Index climbed 0.8% overnight amid easing fears on the Syria front and better-than-expected earnings. Meanwhile, Tuesday's data from China showed that the region's largest economy expanded 6.8% in the March quarter, a tad faster than what economists had expected.
Jingyi Pan, a market strategist at IG Asia said the resilient Chinese growth boosted the STI above the 3,500 level earlier in the day. "But the rally ran out of steam later as markets pared back from the initial reaction, cognizant of the fact that growth momentum could slow into the year."
Meanwhile, Singapore on Tuesday reported that key exports continued to contract for a second month in March, although the pace of decline eased from the previous month. Non-oil domestic exports fell 2.7% last month, data by Enterprise Singapore showed, attributing the decline to a high base a year earlier. The contraction in exports in February was revised to 6%.
On the STI, casino operator Genting Singapore was the day's best performer, adding 1.7%. CapitaLand Commercial Trust was the top loser with a 1.6% decline.
Singapore Airlines rose 0.4% after recording an 8.4% rise in the total number of passengers carried in March.
M1, one of three major telecom companies in the city-state, closed 1.7% higher after it reported a 0.9% on-year rise in net profit for the quarter ended March 31.
Shares of Ezion Holdings were heavily traded before ending the day 1.5% lower. The offshore and marine services company resumed trading on Tuesday after a trading suspension from August 2017 while it restructured its debts. More than 250 million shares changed hands.
--Alexander Winifred & Joannah Perez