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SE Asia Stocks-Bounce back as Middle East tensions fade, Thailand leads

    * Vietnam rises most in over 1 month
    * Philippine ends 0.8% higher on last minute buying
    * Thai stocks post best session in over 2 months

    By Sameer Manekar
    Jan 9 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets ended higher
on Thursday, recovering from sharp declines in the previous
session, as investors' risk appetite increased after the United
States and Iran looked to back down on their military conflict.
    U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday the United
States did not have to retaliate on Iran's attack on its
facilities in Iraq, while Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad
Javad Zarif said the strikes "concluded" Tehran's response to
the U.S. killing of its top military general.
    In Southeast Asia, Thai equities posted their
biggest rise in over two months, with consumer and utilities
firms lifting the index.
    Charoen Pokphand Foods and Gulf Energy Development
 were among the top performers, adding 5.4% and 3.3%.
    Singapore's benchmark index ended flat, and is on
track to post a third consecutive weekly gain.
    "Until it flares up again, the U.S.-Iran tensions have faded
after Trump's press conference... Markets have held up well
ahead of the anticipated signing of U.S.-China Phase 1 deal on
Jan. 15," said Kee Yan Yeo, an equity market strategist at DBS
     The Singapore index has performed relatively better than
other markets over the last two days. On Wednesday, the index
ended marginally lower, while other Southeast Asian markets lost
nearly 1%.
    Vietnam stocks ended 1.2% higher, gaining most in
over a month.
    Financial and real estate firms were among the top gainers,
with Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam and Vinhomes Jsc
 rose 2% and 1%, respectively.
    Financials and consumer stocks lifted the Philippine bourse
, which rose 0.8%. Nearly half of the bourse's gains came
from last-minute buying. 
    Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co rose 2%, while SM
Investments Corp gained 1.6%.
    Indonesian shares recorded their best session in
nearly a month. Bank Mandiri (Persero) and state-owned
Telekomunikasi Indonesia gained 2.7% and 1.5%.
    An index of Jakarta's 45 most liquid stocks ended
1.1% higher.
    Financials and telecom firms lifted the Malaysian equities
, with Malayan Banking and mobile service
provider Digi.Com Bhd rising 1.3% and 2.9%.

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 Market                 Current   Previous close  Pct Move
 Singapore              3247.48   3245.89         0.05
 Bangkok                1579.64   1559.27         1.31
 Manila                 7797.64   7736.24         0.79
 Jakarta                6274.493  6225.686        0.78
 Kuala Lumpur           1595.65   1589.1          0.41
 Ho Chi Minh            960.15    948.98          1.18
 Change so far in 2020                            
 Market                 Current   End 2019        Pct Move
 Singapore              3247.48   3222.83         0.76
 Bangkok                1579.64   1579.84         -0.01
 Manila                 7797.64   7,815.26        -0.23
 Jakarta                6274.493  6,299.54        -0.40
 Kuala Lumpur           1595.65   1588.76         0.43
 Ho Chi Minh            960.15    960.99          -0.09

 (Reporting by Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi