Singapore stocks gains for third straight session; others slip amid holiday lull

The Singapore Exchange Centre in Shenton Way. PHOTO: ST FILE

BENGALURU (REUTERS) - Trade-sensitive Singapore shares extended gains for a third straight session on Tuesday (Dec 24), buoyed by lingering optimism about an interim United States-China trade deal, while other South-east Asian stock markets were down in subdued trade ahead of holidays.

A recent spate of positive developments have pointed towards a de-escalation of a trade conflict between the world's two-largest economies.

The benchmark Singapore index, which will trade for a shorter session ahead of the Christmas holiday, was buoyed by telecom and industrials.

Jardine Strategic Holdings was up as much as 0.8 per cent, while Singapore Telecommunications rose 0.9 per cent.

However, investors in most other markets are choosing to wait until next year to see how long the current thaw in Sino-US relations lasts.

"Granted, there were bright spots with the White House suggesting that the 'Phase-1' deal is within grasp...but the tough Phase-1 negotiations reveal that further progress would require significant concessions on both sides, which lifts the bar for further trade gains," Vishnu Varathan, a senior economist at Mizuho Bank, said in a note.

Losing the most in the region, Malaysian equities saw their worst session in five days, with utilities and healthcare weighing down on the index in thin trading.

Index heavyweights Petronas Gas and Top Glove Corporation Bhd fell about 3 per cent and 1 per cent respectively.

Thailand stocks shed as much as 0.3 per cent, a day after the central bank governor raised concerns about the economy, signalling room for further rate cuts.

"The outlook moving forward remains gloomy as the country's effort to control currency appreciation by cutting key interest rates, among others has no significant impact," an MIDF Research note said.

Industrials and telecom were the biggest drag on the index, with G J Steel PCL being the top percentage loser on it.

The Vietnam index was set to snap three straight sessions of gains, dragged down by industrials and financials.

Meanwhile, Philippine and Indonesian markets were closed until Wednesday.

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