MOST Southeast Asian stock markets ended higher on Tuesday, underpinned by optimism on the imminent signing of a Phase 1 trade deal between the US and China, with Singapore leading gains lifted by the industrial sector.

Under the terms of the trade deal to be signed on Wednesday in Washington, China has pledged to buy nearly US$80 bil (RM326 bil) worth of additional manufactured goods from the US over the next two years, and would also buy more than US$50 bil more in energy supplies, a source said on Monday.

“Asia markets are expected to sing to the cheer on Wall Street with the alleviation of US-China trade tensions carrying this week,” IG Asia said.

Aiding the sentiment further, exports from the region’s largest trading partner, China, rose for the first time in five months in December and by more than expected, signalling a modest recovery in demand.

In Southeast Asia, the benchmark index of trade-reliant Singapore closed at a more than two-month high, driven by major gains in the industrial sector.

Industrial conglomerates Jardine Strategic Holdings and Jardine Matheson Holdings advanced 4.6% and 3.8%, respectively.

Indonesian shares ended higher for the fourth consecutive session. Bank Rakyat Indonesia (Persero) added 1.3% while Unilever Indonesia was up 0.9%.

The Philippine bourse reversed course from earlier in the session as investors rushed back to equities in last minute trading. The index gained 16.48 points after losing as much as 92.49 points earlier.

Consumer firms lifted the index, with food and beverage firm Universal Robina Corp jumping 6.5%.

Malaysian equities fell for a third straight session, however, though the main index trimmed its earlier losses to finish 0.3% lower.

Indian palm oil importers effectively stopped all purchases from Malaysia, the world’s second largest palm producer, after the government privately urged them to boycott its product following a diplomatic spat, sources said.

Malaysia’s exports to India constituted nearly a quarter of its total palm oil exports in 2019. According to government data from 2018, palm oil was the major contributor to the gross domestic product of the country’s agriculture sector.

Sime Darby Plantation and IJM Plantations ended 2.2% and 3.6% lower, respectively.

Thai stocks finished marginally higher, while the Vietnam index gained 0.1%. – Jan 14, Reuters

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