SE Asia Stocks-Mixed; Ukraine tension weighs
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. For Asian Companies click; For South East Asia Hot Stock reports, click; 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.
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