SINGAPORE, Jan 2 ― Most South-east Asian stock markets firmed today, tracking broader Asia, as strong China manufacturing data and ebbing tensions on the Korean Peninsula aided positive sentiment, with Indonesia setting a fresh record.
Manufacturing growth in the world’s second largest economy unexpectedly accelerated to a four-month high in December as factories cranked up production to meet a surge in new orders, a private business survey showed.
Meanwhile, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un used his televised New Year’s Day speech to call for lower military tensions and improved ties with the South.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan climbed 0.5 per cent to a level last visited in 2007, having risen by one-third in value last year.
Singapore shares firmed 0.4 per cent to a two-week high, with financials and real estate stocks accounting for most of the gains.
The city-state’s full-year growth for 2017 came in at the top end of the government’s official 3.0 to 3.5 per cent forecast range, marking the fastest expansion since 2014.
Index heavyweight DBS Group Holdings Ltd climbed 0.5 per cent to a 2-week high, while Hongkong Land Holdings Ltd rose 0.7 per cent.
Indonesian shares climbed 0.8 per cent to an all-time high, led by financials and consumer staples.
Indonesia’s annual inflation rate in December picked up pace for the first time since June as consumers shopped for year-end holidays, statistics bureau data showed.
Bank Central Asia Tbk PT firmed 2.4 percent, while Charoen Pokphand Indonesia Tbk Pt added 7 per cent.
Vietnam shares rose 0.5 per cent, with Saigon Beer Alcohol Beverage Corp gaining 1.4 per cent.
Meanwhile, Malaysian shares fell 0.9 per cent, with the consumer staples sector weighing on the index the most.
“This is most likely the reaction towards strong share prices in the previous (trading) days. It’s only the first day of trading for the year, so it’s hard to say it’s indicative of a longer term trend,” said Jolynn Kek, investment manager at Aberdeen Asset Management Sdn Bhd.
Sime Darby Plantation Bhd slumped 8.2 per cent and was the biggest drag on the benchmark Malaysian index, while Malayan Banking Bhd slipped 1.9 per cent.
Thai and Philippine markets were closed on account of regional holidays. ― Reuters
Source: The Malay Mail Online