Singapore scaled a 21-month peak on Thursday, powered by banks, with South-east Asian stock markets largely upbeat, mirroring broader positive sentiment in Asia and Wall Street. Singapore shares gained as much as 0.8 percent to their highest since July 2015, on solid gains in top banks. DBS Group Holdings, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp Ltd and United Overseas Bank Ltd surged as much as 1-2.2 percent to around 2-year highs.
“The striking thing about the Q1 results for the local banks is that across all three banks the NPL (non-performing loan) ratio has stabilised consistently and the specific provision has dropped by 30-50 percent quarter-on-quarter,” said Jonathan Koh, research analyst at UOB Kay Hian Pte Ltd. “They are also giving positive feedback that the worst of NPL formation from the oil and gas sector will be easing.
This consistent pattern and feedback creates confidence that whatever damage that happened in the past due to exposure to the sector are behind us,” Koh added. Asian stocks edged up, lifted by a record closing high on MSCI’s global stocks benchmark, after strong gains in oil prices boosted energy shares.
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Malaysian shares rose as much as 0.8 percent to record their biggest intraday gain in nearly three weeks, lifted by industrial and real estate stocks. Malaysia’s industrial production rose 4.6 percent in March from a year earlier, helped by strength in the manufacturing and mining sectors, government data showed. Petronas Gas Berhad and British American Tobacco were the biggest gainers on the benchmark.
In the Philippines, shares bounced back as much as 0.9 percent, after two days of losses caused by profit-taking. In March, exports and imports of the country picked up, with imports rising 24 percent, and exports up 21 percent, from a year earlier. The Philippine central bank is set to announce its policy review later in the day where it is expected to leave its benchmark interest rate unchanged, according to 10 economists in a Reuters poll. Thailand was flat while Vietnam edged up as much as 0.3 percent, on its third straight day of gains. Jakarta SE Composite Index is shut on account of a national holiday.
(Reporting by Hanna Paul; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri)