SE Asia Stocks-Thai shares up on earnings plays; Malaysia eases ahead of Q4 GDP
BANGKOK, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets mostly gained on Wednesday after upbeat trade data from China and an optimistic economic outlook from the Federal Reserve chief, with gains in large-caps in the reporting season lifting Thai shares. The Thai SET index was up 0.3 percent near midday, as favourable fourth-quarter earnings by large corporations such as top mobile phone operator Advanced Info Service lured buyers. Advanced Info shares gained as much as 1.4 percent to 213 baht, the highest in almost a week, after it reported a rise in October-December net profit to 8.8 billion baht ($268.70 million). Brokers said caution over the domestic political situation remained, including the inconclusive Feb. 2 poll and a plan by the Election Commission to call for a by-election. "If that is correct Thailand will not have a permanent government for at least another two months, which will be negative to domestic confidence and the economic outlook," strategists at broker KGI Securities wrote in a report. Stocks in Malaysia slipped into negative territory shedding early gains, with the main index down 0.1 percent as investors awaited fourth-quarter GDP numbers, due later in the day, for indications on economic growth outlook. Malaysia's fourth-quarter gross domestic product was forecast to grow 4.8 percent from a year earlier, a Reuters poll of economists showed. Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam edged higher, mainly following the lead in Asian stock markets, with MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan up about 1 percent. In Jakarta, traders and economists also cited optimism about a newly-appointed trade minister as helping bolster sentiment. Among the bright spots, shares of Philippine Globe Telecom jumped more than 2 percent after a brokerage view. Daiwa Capital Markets rated the stock a 'buy', partly due to the prospect of strong revenue for 2014. "Globe Telecom's fourth-quarter net profit was lower than we forecast due mainly to an escalation in costs. Despite this, we retain our positive view on the stock as the company's revenue growth momentum remains strong for 2014," it said. For Globe Telecoms earnings, click China's exports beat expectations in January, rising 10.6 percent from a year earlier, while imports jumped 10 percent, leaving the country with a trade surplus of $31.9 billion for the month, the Customs Administration said. Fed chief Janet Yellen made it clear on Tuesday she would not make any abrupt changes to U.S. monetary policy, saying the central bank was on track to keep reducing its stimulus even though the labor market recovery was far from complete. For Asian Companies click; For South East Asia Hot Stock reports, click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS Change at 0459 GMT Market Current Prev Close Pct Move TR SE Asia Index* 385.51 384.25 +0.33 Singapore 3042.68 3029.10 +0.45 Kuala Lumpur 1822.42 1824.17 -0.10 Bangkok 1300.24 1296.25 +0.31 Jakarta 4484.91 4470.19 +0.33 Manila 6114.06 6106.03 +0.13 Ho Chi Minh 558.93 553.90 +0.91 * The Thomson Reuters South East Asia Index is a highly representative indicator of stocks listed in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
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