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South-east Asia stocks muted, Singapore set to extend losses

Philippine stocks inch up 0.3 per cent, led by gains in telecom and energy shares. — Reuters picPhilippine stocks inch up 0.3 per cent, led by gains in telecom and energy shares. — Reuters picSINGAPORE, Dec 7 — Most South-east Asian stock markets traded within a tight range today as uncertainty over US government policies kept risk sentiment in check, with Singapore set to extend the previous session's sharp decline.

Asian markets remained tentative after yesterday's slump, with MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan hovering around a near two-month low.

Investors are looking to final tax reform legislation in the United States, where a potential US government shutdown looms if Congress fails to agree on a spending package.

Singapore shares fell 0.4 per cent, after retreating 1.2 per cent the previous day, on course for a sixth losing session in seven.

“Yesterday was quite bad... I guess it was part of the broader selloff. Probably in part following the US tax reforms passing the Senate. So I think now it's just waiting for the next catalyst, which is the Senate and House having to reconcile their tax bill,” said Joel Ng, an analyst at KGI Securities in Singapore.

Losses in industrials and financial stocks outweighed strong gains in real estate stocks, with City Developments and CapitaLand Commercial Trust rising over 2 per cent.

“They are probably range-bound at this level, so I think you are starting to see investors coming in, in view of the positive outlook over the next few years for property,” Ng added.

Meanwhile, Philippine stocks inched up 0.3 per cent, led by gains in telecom and energy stocks, with PLDT Inc and Semirara Mining and Power Corp rising 2.2 per cent and 7 per cent, respectively.

Malaysian shares rose 0.1 percent, with Sime Darby Plantation rising 4.3 per cent.

Indonesia and Vietnam were marginally lower, while Thai shares edged higher. — Reuters

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