Most down; Singapore gains on housing duty cuts

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(March 10): Singapore shares rose nearly 1% on Friday, led by real-estate stocks after the city-state lowered stamp duties on sale of residential properties, while most other regional markets fell as they braced for a U.S. rate hike as early as next week.

Singapore cut stamp duties that sellers are required to pay on residential properties and eased some rules on borrowing thresholds, in an effort to relax property curbs imposed since 2009 to rein in the market.  

The Straits Times Index recovered from early fall and gained as much as 0.9% after the news.

CapitaLand Ltd and City Developments Ltd rose as much as 6.2% and 10.20% respectively, to their highest levels since May 2015.

Broader Asian markets edged up, with MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rising 0.2%, but sentiment in Southeast Asia remained largely subdued.

The U.S. employment data due later in the day, are drawing particular interest as any improvement would underline U.S. economic strength, paving way for more interest rate hikes this year.

"Fed hike next week is already a certainty. It would probably require a disastrous miss in payrolls to change the market's mind," DBS Group Research said in a note.
"The more interesting aspects lie with the guidance the Fed is likely to give next week."

A Reuters poll showed the Fed will raise interest rates next week, with two more hikes likely to follow later this year.

Philippines shares and Thai stocks lost about 0.5% each, with financials losing the most.

BDO Unibank Inc shed 2.4% and Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co fell 2%. 

In Thailand, Group Lease PCL lost 28.5%.

Indonesian shares lost 0.34%, while the index of the 45 most liquid stocks fell 0.5%.
  Changes at 0545 GMT
  Market           Current       prev close   Pct Move
  Singapore        3135.77       3118.84      0.54
  Bangkok          1542.01       1549.24      -0.47
  Manila           7256.99       7295.45      -0.53
  Jakarta          5384.199      5402.386     -0.34
  Kuala Lumpur     1715.43       1717.42      -0.12
  Ho Chi Minh      715.94        715.8        0.02
  Change on year                              
  Market           Current       End 2016     Pct Move
  Singapore        3135.77       2880.76      8.85
  Bangkok          1542.01       1542.94      -0.06
  Manila           7256.99       6840.64      6.1
  Jakarta          5384.199      5296.711     1.65
  Kuala Lumpur     1715.43       1641.73      4.49
  Ho Chi Minh      715.94        664.87       7.7