Philippine shares hit their highest in over seven months on Thursday, led by mining stocks after the ouster of the country’s environment minister over her anti-mining advocacy, while other markets in the region were largely steady following the US Federal Reserve’s decision to leave rates unchanged. Philippine lawmakers ended a 10-month crusade by Environment Secretary Regina Lopez on Wednesday, forcing out the eco-warrior whose mining crackdown was backed by the president but led to demands of her removal by miners.
Apex Mining Co Inc surged as much as 20.2 percent, to its highest in over two months, while Philex Mining Corp rose as much as 1.3 percent. The markets could remain “a bit weak” after the U.S. Federal Reserve held interest rates unchanged, as “there are concerns that borrowing costs will go up,” said an analyst from Singapore, who did not want to be identified. The Fed downplayed weak first-quarter economic growth and emphasised the strength of the labour market, a sign it was still on track for two rate increases this year.
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Singapore’s benchmark index snapped three sessions of gains to fall as much as 0.6 percent, with financials dragging the index down. DBS Group Holdings Ltd posted its lowest intraday percentage loss since Feb 14, while Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation Ltd and United Overseas Bank Ltd slid as much as 0.3 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.
Malaysia shares hit a near two-week low, underpinned by financials. A $1.7-billion property deal that was expected to ease the debt burden of Malaysian state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fell through on Wednesday, complicating Prime Minister Najib Razak’s efforts to move on from a financial scandal surrounding the fund.
“Although we see the pullback as a healthy correction, the cancellation of the Bandar Malaysia deal is a shock for the market,” said Alexander Chia, head of research, RHB Research Institute. Thailand edged up to its highest in near two weeks, buoyed by financials and energy stocks, while Indonesia gained marginally.
(Reporting by Christina Martin; Additional reporting by Liz Lee; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)