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Nikkei Markets

Singapore, Malaysia shares fall on weaker China data

Investors await FOMC meeting for clues on US interest rate direction

KUALA LUMPUR (Nikkei Markets) -- Singapore and Malaysia shares fell Friday, dragging their respective equity benchmarks to weekly losses as investors booked profits following two straight days' of gain in Asia ahead of next week's Fed meeting.

The Straits Times Index closed 1.1% lower at 3077.09, while the FBM KLCI finished down 0.8% at 1661.96. Both main indexes lost a little over 1% each this week. Hospital operator IHH Healthcare lost 3.6% in Malaysia after its acquisition of India's Fortis Healthcare hit a legal bump.

Next week, investors will be watching Federal Open Market Committee's meeting for clues on U.S. interest rates, said PhillipCapital Head of Research Paul Chew. "The market wants some reaffirmation the Fed will at least pause at a neutral rate, indicating a dovish hike for December."

The Nikkei Asia300 Index fell 1.5% after a clutch of weaker-than-expected Chinese economic data rekindled worries over slowing growth in Asia's largest economy.

Retail sales in China rose 8.1% last month, slowing from October's 8.6% pace and missing the 8.8% growth predicted in a Reuters poll. Industrial output increased 5.4% in November from a year ago. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a growth of 5.9%, which matched October's pace.

Meanwhile, markets are watching developments between the U.S. and China for signs that trade tensions between the two nations may be easing. The U.S. plans to delay a tariff hike on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, Bloomberg reported, citing two people familiar with the matter.

In corporate news, Kian Joo Can Factory surged close to 30% in Malaysia thanks to Can-One's plan to raise its stake to 33.4%. Can-One, meanwhile gained close to 11%. Under Malaysian takeover laws, Can-One will have to offer to buy the rest of the shares it doesn't already own in Kian Joo.

In earnings news, real estate developer Eco World International declined nearly 5% in Malaysia following its weaker-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings. Net profit for the three months ended Oct. 31 was 70.08 million ringgit ($16.76 million).

Parent company Eco World Development Group meanwhile rose 1% after more-than-doubling its quarterly profit to 68.53 million ringgit.

Malaysian plastic packaging firm SCGM declined 13% after its second-quarter net profit plunged 69% year-on-year to 1.65 million ringgit.

Kingsmen Creatives rose close to 2% in Singapore after announcing a collaboration with Hasbro International to launch a multi-brand carnival in Asia, TOYBOX, with venue partner Sentosa Development Corporation.

Print management services company A-Smart Holdings slipped 1% in Singapore after it reported a narrower first quarter net loss of S$214,000 ($156,000) from S$246,000 a year ago. Revenue dropped 1.1% to S$1.7 million.

- Jason Ng and Joannah Perez

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