SE Asia Stocks-Mixed; Ukraine tension weighs

Tue Mar 4, 2014 2:54am EST

March 4 (Reuters) - Philippine and Malaysian stocks fell on
Tuesday as concerns over mounting tensions in Ukraine kept
investors on the sidelines despite positive data from the United
States.  
    Analysts said concerns that the West could impose sanctions
on Russia have dented investor sentiment. 
    U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday that Russia
violated international law with its military intervention in
Ukraine and warned that his government would look at a series of
economic and diplomatic sanctions to isolate Moscow.
  
    Financial data firm Markit's gauge of U.S. factory activity
rose in February to its highest level since May 2010.
Separately, the Institute for Supply Management said its index
of U.S. factory activity rose to 53.2 in February, topping
expectations. Personal spending in January grew despite the
harsh winter weather. 
    Malaysia's main share index was down 0.2 percent,
led by financials with CIMB Group Holdings losing 1.1
percent by midday. 
    Philippine stocks were weaker 0.2 percent, while
Vietnam's benchmark VN Index was down 0.3 percent as
retail investors sold shares to reduce their high debt-to-equity
ratio due to margin trading. 
    Bucking the trend, Thailand's SET index gained for a
sixth day, up 0.5 percent on expectation of easing political
tension, a day after foreign investors bought a net $35.17
million worth risky assets.
    Foreign investors have offloaded a net $3.9 billion worth of
Thai shares since November through Friday due to the political
turmoil, according to Thomson Reuters data.
    Sentiment has improved after anti-government protesters
retreated to a central Bangkok park, freeing up traffic after
blocking big intersections for more than a month in their bid to
push out Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. 
    Shares of Airports of Thailand were up 2.8 percent
by midday after a 3.2 percent rise on Monday. The airport
operator could benefit from easing political situation in
Bangkok.
    In Singapore, the index was up 0.7 percent on
bargain-hunting in blue chips, led by a 1.1 percent gain in
Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. 
    The Jakarta Composite Index was higher 0.1 percent,
a day after the Southeast Asia's largest economy said trade
balance tipped into deficit in January, rekindling concerns over
its large current-account deficit just when it had started to
narrow. 
    
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SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS
 Change at 0658 GMT
 Market             Current     Prev Close    Pct Move
 TR SE Asia Index*   397.38        396.39       +0.25
 Singapore          3109.51       3087.47       +0.71
 Kuala Lumpur       1821.71       1824.69       -0.16
 Bangkok            1345.23       1339.21       +0.45
 Jakarta            4589.84       4584.21       +0.12
 Manila             6397.28       6407.52       -0.16
 Ho Chi Minh         571.83        573.38       -0.27 
 * The Thomson Reuters South East Asia Index is a
highly representative indicator of stocks listed in Indonesia,
Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.