Singapore shares hit a 21-month high on Tuesday on strong results from lenders, and Indonesia inched up to a fresh high before trading flat, while other South-east Asian markets were range-bound in the absence of broad catalysts. Regional markets tracked broader Asian and Wall Street peers as investors seek the next catalyst following the French presidential election on Sunday.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slipped 0.1 percent. “Asian markets await the results of South Korean presidential elections amid a relatively quiet economic data calendar,” OCBC Bank said in a note. South Koreans go to the polls on Tuesday to elect a new leader, after a corruption scandal that brought down former President Park Geun-hye.
Singapore stocks gained as much as 0.4 percent to hit their highest since July 2015 as financials swept gains on the benchmark, led by top banks Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp and DBS Group Holdings. The city-state’s second-biggest lender, Oversea-Chinese Banking, reported a 14 percent rise in quarterly profit and kept up the positive tone set by top banks after DBS beat market estimates and United Overseas Bank recorded a rise in quarterly profit.
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Jakarta SE Composite Index rose as much as 0.7 percent, on track for its fourth consecutive session of gains. Gains in financials and consumer stocks held the index up, with PT Bank Agris Tbk and food distributor PT Wicaksana Overseas International Tbk among top gainers. Indonesia’s economic growth is seen edging up 5 percent in the first quarter as the region’s largest economy is expected to have grown faster on improved exports, according to a Reuters poll. The data is due on Thursday.
The Philippines, however, fell as much as 0.4 percent on profit-taking to snap three sessions of gains on the back of strong corporate earnings. Ayala Corp dipped as much as 1.1 percent after hitting an eight-month high on Monday, while SM Prime Holdings rose 1 percent. “We’ve been up for three days, so I think investors are taking profits in stocks which hit new highs such as Ayala,” said Richard Llaneda of Eagle Equities.
The Philippines named Nestor Espenilla as its next central bank governor on Monday. The much-anticipated announcement comes ahead of a policy meeting on Thursday and ends months of speculation about what could be the most important appointment of Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency.
(Reporting by Hanna Paul; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri)