August 20, 2019 / 4:03 AM / a month ago

SE Asia Stocks-Most climb as stimulus boost eases recession fears

    * Singapore shares hit their highest in a week 
    * Investors await minutes of Fed July meet due on Wednesday
    * Philippine stocks down 1.2% 

    By Niyati Shetty
    Aug 20 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets eked
out gains on Tuesday as global policymakers step in to support
their economies, in a bid to stave off a sharp economic
slowdown, boosting riskier assets. 
    Sentiment got a lift after China took steps to lower
borrowing costs for companies and Germany hinted plans of
ramping up government spending to counter a future crisis.

    The Washington Post on Monday reported that senior White
House officials are discussing the possibility of a temporary
payroll tax cut to boost the U.S. economy, reinforcing hopes
that major economies will step in to ensure growth.
    The Singapore bourse extended gains to its highest in
 a week, boosted by real estate stocks. Capitaland Ltd
and Hongkong Land Holdings Ltd were among the top
gainers in the index, rising 1.7% and 2.3%, respectively.  
    Hongkong Land is "among stocks that have underperformed the
broader market but are now offering attractive buying
opportunities due to their undemanding valuations," KGI
Securities (Singapore) said in a note to clients.
    Gains in the regional markets, however, were capped as
investors kept a cautious stance awaiting Wednesday's release of
minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve's July meeting. Fed Chair
Jerome Powell's speech at the end of the week might provide
further insight on the central bank's policy stance. 
    The Thai benchmark gained despite the central bank
saying it would lower its 2019 growth forecast of 3.3% amid
growing risks, as investors anticipate the proposed $10 billion
stimulus package to boost economic growth.
    Malaysian equities advanced up to 0.3%, while the
Vietnam index was poised to extend gains to a fifth
straight session. 
    Bucking the trend, Philippine stocks declined up to
1.2% after clocking gains in the previous session. 
    "The decline is just a normalisation of the swing that we
saw late yesterday (Monday)," said Charles William Ang, analyst,
COL Financial Group. "If we consider the bigger picture we might
just be in line with the regional markets."
    Losses in financial and consumer sectors pulled down the
Philippine index, with Security Bank Corp falling up
to 3% and Universal Robina Corp retreating 4.2%. 
    Meanwhile, Indonesian stocks traded largely
unchanged. The archipelago's finance minister Sri Mulyani
Indrawati said on Monday she wants to reduce foreigners'
holdings of government bonds over the near-term to 20% from
almost 40% currently, to reduce volatility in the financial
markets.

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SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS AS AT 0349 GMT 
 Market                 Current   Previous close  Pct Move
 Singapore              3138.45   3128.45         0.32
 Bangkok                1639.1    1637.26         0.11
 Manila                 7848.64   7938.35         -1.13
 Jakarta                6300.567  6296.715        0.06
 Kuala Lumpur           1599.83   1596.45         0.21
 Ho Chi Minh            983.06    981.03          0.21
                                                  
 Change so far in 2019                            
 Market                 Current   End 2018        Pct Move
 Singapore              3138.45   3068.76         2.27
 Bangkok                1639.1    1563.88         4.81
 Manila                 7848.64   7,466.02        5.12
 Jakarta                6300.567  6,194.50        1.71
 Kuala Lumpur           1599.83   1690.58         -5.37
 Ho Chi Minh            983.06    892.54          10.14
 
 (Reporting by Niyati Shetty in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry
Jacob-Phillips)
  
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