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SE Asian stocks fall to over two-week lows

Southeast Asian stock markets mostly fell on Tuesday, with Singapore and Malaysia extending losses to more than two-week lows as investors cut holdings in risky assets amid weak global sentiment and oil company shares retreated in line with softening oil prices.

Singapore’s index was down 1.4 per cent after a slide on Monday, to 3,281.08, while Malaysia’s benchmark eased 1 per cent, heading for its fifth straight loss, both hovering around the lowest level since December 19.

Shares of Keppel Corporation and Sembcorp Marine each lost about 4 per cent on the Singapore bourse.

In Kuala Lumpur, shares of UMW Holdings and Petronas Chemicals Group led among losers.

Brokers forecast a further decline in the near term. Affin Hwang Capital in Kuala Lumpur said in a report it expected the bearish market sentiment to drag stock prices lower on the Bursa Malaysia index.

KGI Securities in Bangkok said energy shares would face selling pressure with oil extending losses on Tuesday to touch fresh 5-1/2-year lows, and expect investors to track the European Central Bank meeting later in the month for cues.

“Global market sentiment continued to worsen due to uncertainty about Greece’s political outlook, which may result in the country exiting the euro zone,’’ it said in a report.

“In our view, the next major event that may revive market sentiment will be the ECB meeting on January 22 when the central bank may announce a full QE program,’’ it said.

The Thai SET index traded down 0.9 per cent, with top energy shares such as PTT and PTT Exploration and Production sliding further from the previous session.

Jakarta’s composite index was down almost 1 per cent.

Stocks in the Philippines recovered from earlier losses and closed in positive territory, with the shares of Alliance Global among outperformers due to buying by foreign investors, stock exchange data showed.

Vietnam gained almost 1 per cent as buying in banking and consumer goods equities reversed the market position after some early offloads.

Asian shares slumped on Tuesday partly due to increasing speculation that Greece might be kicked out of the euro zone if a left-wing party that has vowed to end austerity measures and erase a big portion of its debt wins in the January 25 elections, as widely expected.

NA
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