SE Asia Stocks-Firmer on global economy outlook; Fed meet eyed

Tue Dec 17, 2013 2:02am EST

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Dec 17 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian markets rose on Tuesday,
with most recovering from three-month lows, encouraged by upbeat
data from the United States and the euro zone ahead of a crucial
U.S. Federal Reserve meeting starting later in the day.
    U.S. manufacturing output rose for a fourth straight month
in November, while surveys showed euro zone businesses ended the
year on a high as new orders surged, bolstering investor
confidence about the global economy ahead of the Fed meeting.
    Investors have been nervous about when the Fed will start
tapering its $85 billion-a-month bond-buying programme, a major
driver of global risk assets in recent years.
    A majority of economists polled earlier expected the taper
to start in March, but a recent run of upbeat economic data from
the United States has steadily shortened the odds on an
announcement to this week's two-day meeting concluding on
Wednesday, or in January. 
    At 0615 GMT, Indonesia's main index was up 1.2
percent, rising from its previous session's more than
three-month low close. Financials led the gains despite the
country's rupiah currency hovering near five-year lows
against the dollar. 
    John Teja, a director of Jakarta-based Ciptadana Securities,
said the Indonesian market already priced in the bad news. "I
think the near-term volatility from Fed tapering uncertainty
still remains," he said.  
    The Philippine index gained 1.9 percent and was
trading at a one-week high. Malaysia's main index hit an
intraday high of 1848.80 at 0636 GMT, while Thailand's SET index
rose 0.6 percent, recovering from its lowest close in the
previous session since Sept. 5.
    "Investors seemed to be gradually pricing in the QE
tapering," said Bangkok-based strategist Teerada Charnyingyong
at broker Phillip Securities.
    A buying spree from long-term equity funds and retirement
mutual fund buyers in order to get tax benefits also helped the
Thai market, she said.  
    "However, political uncertainty would cap the index upside,
while slim trading volume reflects a lack of investor confidence
to fully jump into the market."
    Singapore shares were up 0.6 percent, recovering from a more
than three-month closing low, but trading was slow as investors
were waiting for the Fed meeting.
    Vietnam's benchmark VN Index was 0.4 percent firmer
by midday as investors picked up some recently battered stocks
after the index touched a one-month low on Monday on selling by
an exchange-traded fund.
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 Change at 0615 GMT
 Market             Current     Prev Close    Pct Move
 TR SE Asia Index*   389.69        386.79       +0.75
 Singapore          3072.77       3053.77       +0.62
 Kuala Lumpur       1847.22       1837.88       +0.51
 Bangkok            1336.47       1328.40       +0.61
 Jakarta            4175.81       4125.96       +1.21
 Manila             5920.83       5812.54       +1.86
 Ho Chi Minh         504.21        502.04       +0.43
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