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Stocks

Singapore stocks fall amid rising China borrowing costs, Malaysia equities gain

DBS Group, United Overseas Bank decline in city-state

KUALA LUMPUR (Nikkei Markets) -- Singapore shares edged lower on Monday mirroring the decline in Japanese and Hong Kong markets as the specter of rising borrowing costs in China outweighed positive cues from Wall Street. Malaysian equities eked out small gains after a choppy session.

The Straits Times Index of Singapore slipped 0.2% to close at 3,436.36.

IG Singapore market strategist Jingyi Pan said investors were profit-taking ahead of the U.S. Senate's tax reform vote and the OPEC meeting toward the latter part of the week, which could decide on oil production cuts.

DBS Group Research, however, is bullish about Singapore equities, noting in its outlook for next year that the domestic market is attractive from an earnings perspective compared to global and regional peers.

Among its top stock picks for next year is City Developments, which gained 2.1% on Monday. DBS has a target price S$14.03 on the stock, which is largely seen as a key proxy to trends in the local residential market, it said.

Among the day's top gainers were flag carrier Singapore Airlines, which posted a 0.4% rise, and agricultural commodities counter Olam International, up 2.7%.

Preschool operator MindChamps PreSchool, which made its trading debut on Nov. 24, added another 4.4%.

Among the losers were electronics services provider Venture, down a further 1.5%, its third consecutive day of decline. The weakness reflected the broad downturn in South Korean technology stocks, including names such as Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix, which fell 5.1% and 2.4%, respectively, in Seoul.

In Singapore, lenders DBS Group Holdings and United Overseas Bank lost 0.9% and 0.8%, respectively.

Golden Agri-Resources shed 1.3%. The company reported earlier in the day that it was selling its Tianjin oil operations for $111 million.

The Bursa Malaysia KLCI index added 0.2% to 1,719.86.

UMW Oil & Gas Corp. jumped 5% after swinging back to a net profit in the third quarter. KNM Group, an oil-and-gas services provider, rose 4.2% after reporting a 17% increase in third-quarter net profit.

Among top losers on Monday was glovemaker Supermax Corp., which dropped 5.3% after Managing Director Stanley Thai was sentenced to a five-year jail term for insider trading. Stanley's conviction will "likely result in lower investor confidence in the stock," CIMB Investment Bank analyst Walter Aw wrote in a note. Thai's lawyers have filed an appeal on the grounds that the sentence is "manifestly excessive," Supermax Chairman Rafidah Aziz said in a statement.

CSC Steel Holdings, a unit of Taiwan's China Steel Corp., dropped 6.4% to a 14-month low after its net profit fell 42% in the third quarter, missing estimates. AmInvestment Bank analysts cut forecasts for CSC's earnings until 2019, flagging higher raw material costs that are hurting the steelmaker's margins.

AirAsia X, the long-haul arm of low-cost carrier AirAsia, fell 1.4% to its lowest since Jan. 5. Nomura Securities analyst Ahmad Maghfur Usman cut his target price on the stock to 0.47 ringgit from 0.54 ringgit, citing higher-than-expected oil prices and larger associate losses.

--Alexander Winifred and Joannah Perez

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