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Nikkei Markets

Singapore, Malaysia shares tumble as trade worries resurface

Technology, plantation stocks under pressure in Asian equities rout

KUALA LUMPUR (Nikkei Markets) -- Singapore and Malaysia shares declined Thursday as technology stocks tumbled amid a sea of red in Asia following renewed worries over an already strained U.S.-China trade relation.

The Straits Times Index ended 1.3% lower at 3115.52. Singapore Press Holdings fell 4.2%, leading percentage losses on the gauge. The FBM KLCI closed down 0.3% at 1683.34. Sime Darby Plantation was the biggest decliner on the Malaysian index with a 2.7% drop.

Analysts said the arrest of Huawei's chief financial officer in Canada at the request of U.S. authorities raises fresh concerns about Sino-American relations.

"The news is quite significant as the U.S. government is attempting to persuade allies to stop using Huawei equipment due to security fears, (which) is triggering a sell-off in technology," said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia Pacific at Oanda in Singapore.

The news comes days after Washington agreed to hold off on raising tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods for 90 days, following a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at a G-20 summit in Argentina.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index was down 2.4%. The Japanese yen, considered a safe-haven asset, climbed 0.4% against the U.S. dollar. U.S. equity futures pointed to a weaker opening on Wall Street.

Electronic manufacturing services firm Venture Corp. fell 1.4% in Singapore while the broader FTSE ST Technology Index was down 1.6%. Inari Amertron dropped 2.8%, while Bursa Malaysia Technology Index fell 1.7%.

Plantation stocks, meanwhile, declined after Indonesia eased rules on palm oil export levies. Apart from Sime Darby Plantation, IOI Corp retreated 0.9% in Malaysia and Golden Agri-Resources fell nearly 2% in Singapore.

In corporate news, oil and gas services firm Serba Dinamik Holdings fell 1.9% in Malaysia after the company announced plan to acquire 30% stake in India's information technology firm eNoah iSolution for $3.60 million.

Korean entertainment production group Spackman Entertainment Group fell close to 10% in Singapore. The company said its unit Frame Pictures secured three camera equipment deals for three upcoming Korean drama series. The deal value tentatively stands at 972 million Korean won.

Bucking the trend, Sapura Energy rose 6% after the oil and gas firm said its consortium secured a contract to develop an offshore platform for about 3 billion ringgit ($720.03 million) in India. Sapura has a 48.3% stake in the consortium with Afcons Infrastructure.

 Astro Malaysia Holdings climbed 7% after the pay-television operator's third-quarter earnings net profit rose 4.5% on-year to 153.22 million ringgit, while revenue dropped 0.9% at 1.38 billion ringgit.

- Suzannah Benjamin and Jason Ng

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