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After a year of extreme volatility, mainland stocks in Shanghai and Shenzhen have emerged as Asia's shining stars, while Southeast Asian stocks disappointed as the region's laggards.
China's Shenzhen Composite was the region's best performer with year-to-date gains of 63.2 percent.
The index may be lesser well known than its Shanghai counterpart but it boasts smaller companies covering new-economy sectors, such as healthcare, Internet and technology, compared to Shanghai's state-owned giants.
Analysts say these companies are becoming increasingly in-demand among mom-and-pop investors, the key drivers of Shenzhen trade, as the world's second-largest economy undergoes a transition to consumption-led growth from its previous dependence on large scale manufacturing.
New Zealand's NZX 50 came in second place with a near 14 percent increase. The index has rallied to multiple record highs during the past two weeks thanks to a recovering dairy sector, the nation's top export, and expectations for more monetary stimulus.
Dairy prices rose 2 percent at the last auction of the year on December 15, with the benchmark GlobalDairyTrade (GDT) Index ending at $2,458, off a thirteen year-low of $1,815 hit in August. Meanwhile, a stronger has boosted hopes that officials will unleash further easing to offset the currency's negative impact on growth. The local dollar is 5 percent higher against the greenback over the past month despite the central bank's wishes for further depreciation.
In third place is the Shanghai Composite with a 9.4 percent spike. Despite a rout that wiped trillions off its market value from June to August, Beijing's multi-billion dollar support program to buy stocks seems to have paid off.
The Nikkei 225 came in fourth with a 9 percent rise, followed by Vietnam's 6 percent gain.
A more than 14 percent loss for Singapore's Straits Times Index makes it Asia's worst-performing market this year.
Despite the city darting a technical recession in the third-quarter, a weakening manufacturing base, cooling construction activity, poor corporate balance sheets and a tepid property market are weighing on overall growth.
Thailand's SET followed closely behind, down 14 percent, while Indonesia's Jakarta Composite trailed with a 12 percent fall, due to oil pressures, a strong greenback and fears of higher U.S. interest rates.
Despite both countries being net energy importers, oil's sweeping decline this year hit big-cap energy stocks. Jakarta also exports some of its oil overseas so lower energy prices are double-edged sword for Prime Minister Widodo's administration.
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