SE Asia Stocks-Weak on Fed uncertainty; Indonesia falls ahead of rate decision
BANGKOK, Aug 15 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stocks fell on Thursday as uncertainty over stimulus in the United States kept investors cautious, while the Indonesian benchmark retreated from a three-week high ahead of the central bank's interest rate decision due later in the day. Jakarta's Composite Index eased 0.6 percent after a 2.2 percent gain in the past two days. Shares in interest-sensitive banking and property companies fell, which brokers said reflected investor caution ahead of the interest rate outcome. Bank Indonesia is expected to keep its benchmark rate at 6.5 percent on Thursday, a Reuters poll showed, though a sizable minority of respondents predict another hike to battle high inflation and a wide current account deficit. Shares in Indonesia's small cap Tower Bersama Infrastructure were among the underperformers, falling 5.5 percent as the stock will be deleted from the MSCI Indonesia index effective as of the close of Aug. 30. Singapore stocks dropped 0.8 percent, reversing a small gain of the previous session. Malaysia was nearly unchanged, Thailand was down 0.6 percent and the Philippines slipped 1.3 percent. Shares in conglomerate SM Investments Corp, the biggest firm by value, plunged 7 percent, the top percentage loser on the Philippine main index, in heavy volume that was three times the full day average over the past 30 sessions. The drop in SM Investments shares reflected some portfolio adjustments among funds that track the MSCI index, brokers said. "MSCI is the no. 1 reason" for the drop in SM Investments Corp shares, said Joseph Roxas, President of Eagle Equities in Manila. Bucking the trend, Vietnam's benchmark VN Index advanced 1 percent as blue chips in the energy and banking sectors gained after positive earnings reports. MSCI's index of Southeast Asia eased 0.6 percent while MSCI's index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged down 0.1 percent as uncertainty over when the U.S. Federal Reserve may start to pare back its stimulus offset any cheer from a brighter economic picture in Europe. For Asian Companies click; For South East Asia Hot Stock reports, click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS Change at 0618 GMT Market Current Prev Close Pct Move TR SE Asia Index* 426.12 428.13 -0.47 Singapore 3224.02 3248.66 -0.76 Kuala Lumpur 1793.92 1793.73 +0.01 Bangkok 1452.23 1460.63 -0.58 Jakarta 4672.53 4699.73 -0.58 Manila 6572.98 6656.61 -1.26 Ho Chi Minh 508.82 503.57 +1.04
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