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=ASIA MARKETS: Singapore Shares Rise With Region After Data Dents Dollar, Malaysian Stocks Slip

SINGAPORE (Jun 19) -- Singapore stocks rose on Monday, mirroring gains in most Asian markets after softer-than-expected U.S. economic data pushed the greenback lower against most currencies.

Malaysian equities bucked the trend, edging lower as banking stocks retreated after recent advances.

U.S. housing data for May released on Friday disappointed markets, with both housing starts and building permits missing expectations. The University of Michigan’s closely-followed preliminary U.S. consumer confidence index for June also came in below analyst estimates. The latest numbers on Friday, which followed the weak retail sales and inflation data earlier in the week, fuelled doubts about additional rate increases by the Federal Reserve this year. The dollar index, measured against a basket, was little changed on Monday following a 0.3% drop on Friday.

“As things stand, the strengthening and stabilizing of Asian currencies has certainly, in part, helped regional markets,” said Jingyi Pan, market strategist at IG.

The Korean won, the Indonesian rupiah and the Thai baht edged higher against the dollar on Monday.

Singapore's FTSE Straits Times Index advanced 0.5% to 3,247.18, with last week’s underperformer - banking stocks and developers - leading the way. City Developments advanced 2.5% and UOL Group added 2%. DBS Group Holdings rose 0.7% and United Overseas Bank by 1.2%.

Noble Group shares jumped 46% amid reports that credit lines for the troubled commodity trader have been extended by four months. The stock has lost more than three-fourths of its value this year amid concerns that it will be forced into bankruptcy.

StarHub rose 0.7%. The mobile operator issued S$200 million ($144.56 million) in aggregate principal amount of 3.95% subordinated perpetual securities.

Hi-P International rose 1% after the industrial-mold maker entered into a joint venture agreement with China’s Cino Coffee Machine Manufacturing for the production of coffee machines, and packaging for coffee and beverages.

The FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI slipped 0.1% to 1,788.90. Hong Leong Bank and CIMB Group Holding fell 0.9% each, paring their monthly advance. Hong Leong Bank is up over 10% this month and CIMB over 5% through Friday. Plantations majors IOI Corporation and Kuala Lumpur Kepong dropped by 1.6% or more.

Mobile operator Maxis requested for halt in trading of its shares on Monday. Malaysia’s second-largest mobile telecom company by revenue is selling 300 million new shares, or about 4.0% of its equity capital, to raise up to 1.725 billion ringgit ($403.9 million), according to a term sheet. The wireless carrier is marketing the shares at between 5.52 ringgit and 5.75 ringgit per share, representing a discount of between 2.2% and 6.1% to its last closing price of 5.88 on Friday.

Top Glove slipped 2.1% to 5.49 ringgit after at least two brokerages cut the target price on the stock. The glove maker is up over 20% May and June.

“While we expect a stronger set of earnings in the upcoming 4QFY17, we believe current valuations are already fair and have largely reflected most of the positive near-term sector catalysts," UOB Kay Hian Securities said in an investor note, as it cut the stock’s rating to “hold” and lowered the target price to 5.48 ringgit from 5.89 ringgit. CIMB Investment Bank also downgraded the share to “hold”

Malaysia's Choo Bee Metal Industries slipped 1.3%. The company aims to restart exporting to the U.S. next year to offset potential earnings drag due to weak domestic market conditions that has already prompted the flat steel product maker to defer capacity expansion, its chief financial officer told Nikkei Markets.

Boustead Holdings fell 1.5% after its 51%-owned unit MHS Aviation received a letter of intent from Petronas Carigali for the termination of a 3 billion ringgit contract.

NetX Holdings, among the most actively traded stocks on Monday, slipped 8.3%. The information technology company said late Friday that it will issue up to 500 million new shares to Macquarie Bank, equivalent to 40% of current share base.

- By Kevin Lim and Nimesh Vora;; +65 6331 6250
- Edited By Suzannah Benjamin
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