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Nikkei Markets

Singapore shares suffer steepest drop since Oct

Investors offload assets ahead of Fed meeting amid risks of slowing growth

KUALA LUMPUR (Nikkei Markets) -- Singapore shares suffered their steepest single-day decline in nearly three months, while Malaysia stocks fell for the third day close to two-year low as rising fears of slowing global economic growth rattled investors in Asia.

The Straits Times Index closed at 3045.54 after declining 2.2%, its sharpest decline since Oct. 11. Hutchison Port Holdings Trust fell 5.5%, the biggest loser among 29 of 30 components. The FBM KLCI meanwhile ended 0.4% lower at 1635.31, led by a 4.9% drop in shares of Sime Darby Plantation.

"Markets remain entirely nonplussed as investors are now left waiting for the last Fed meeting of the year for the FOMC to do the markets heavy lifting," said Stephen Innes, head of Asia trading at Oanda.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index retreated 0.7% as investors sold risk assets ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve's two-day meeting amid worries that fragile growth in the world's biggest economy could be sputter with tighter monetary policy.

The central bank is widely expected to deliver its fourth-rate increase of the year on Wednesday. Overnight, the three major U.S. equity indexes shed more than 2% each after weak economic data from Asia and Europe raised concerns of a global growth slowdown.

Markets are also watching trade-related developments between the U.S. and China amid a 90-day truce on tariffs that ends in March.

In corporate news, Top Glove fell nearly 5% after its first quarter financial results. The world's largest rubber glove maker by capacity flagged challenging business environment in the new year due to intensifying competition and cost increases.

Bucking the broader decline, Selangor Properties gained over 1% after the real estate developer's major shareholder Kayin Holdings raised its buyout offer by 5.3% to 6 ringgit per share.

Transocean Holdings surged 45% in Malaysia after the transportation firm announced acquisition of a 77.2% stake in Swift Haulage, a privately-held logistics firm, for at least 750 million ringgit in shares. The company plans to issue new shares to Swift shareholders at 1.50 ringgit apiece.

Singapore Telecommunications lost some 3%. The company announced that Australia's Telstra will purchase a 25% stake in its unit Southern Cross Cable Network as well as buy capacity in the new Southern Cross NEXT subsea cable.

Flag carrier Singapore Airlines slipped 0.6% after reporting a 7.4% rise in November traffic to three million passengers.

In earnings news, Malaysian palm oil producer United Malacca fell 1.3% after the company slipped to a net loss in its fiscal second quarter. Multi-level marketing firm Hai-O Enterprise tumbled 11% after net profit fell by more than a-third in the second quarter.

- Jason Ng and Joannah Perez

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