Singapore, Malaysia rise after Trump-Xi trade phone call

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BENGALURU (Dec 31): Singaporean and Malaysian stocks rose on Monday in thin year-end trading as a phone call between US and Chinese leaders spurred hopes that the two economic heavyweights would reach a deal that could ease their damaging trade standoff.

While other markets in the region were shut, Singapore and Malaysia gained modestly, in line with their Asian peers, as investors appeared to take heart from a possible Sino-US deal at the end of a tumultuous year.

US President Donald Trump said on Twitter that he had a "long and very good call" with Chinese President Xi Jinping and that a possible trade deal between the two sides was progressing well.

In late November, the two countries had agreed to halt additional tariffs, hold fresh talks and reach an agreement within 90 days.

China is Southeast Asia's biggest trading partner and its trade war with the United States, which has cost both sides billions of dollars in losses, also hit Southeast Asian stock indexes, all of which ended 2018 in the red.

Singapore's index rose 0.3% on Monday, with top gainer Thai Beverage PCL advancing 3.4%. Lender DBS Group Holdings Ltd firmed 1.1%.

Malaysia's benchmark was boosted by industrial conglomerate Sime Darby Bhd, which rose 3.4%, and tourist resort operator Genting Malaysia Bhd, which added 1.3%.

Singapore's index has shed over 10% this year, while Malaysian stocks were among the region's better performers with a 5% decline.

Singapore's market will trade for shorter hours on account of New Year's Eve, while Malaysian markets have regular trading hours.

SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS AS AT 0227 GMT

Market          Current   Previous close  % move
Singapore       3063.88   3053.43         0.34
Kuala Lumpur    1694.88   1692.07         0.17

Change on year

Market          Current   End 2017        % move
Singapore       3063.88   3402.92         -9.96
Bangkok         1563.88   1753.71         -10.82
Manila          7466.02   8558.42         -12.76
Jakarta         6194.498  6355.654        -2.54
Kuala Lumpur    1694.88   1796.81         -5.67
Ho Chi Minh     892.54    984.24          -9.32