SE Asia Stocks-Most fall ahead of cenbank policy meetings; Thailand gains

    * Indonesia snaps four sessions of gains
    * Thailand up after 3 sessions of losses

    By Shreya Mariam Job
    March 19 (Reuters) - Thai shares rose nearly 1 percent in
thin trade on Tuesday, snapping three straight sessions of
falls, while most other Southeast Asian markets ended lower
ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve policy meeting and a slew of
regional central bank meetings this week.
    With global economic growth appearing to slow, traders were
focused on the Fed, which kicks off a two-day policy meeting
later in the day, for clues about the likely path of U.S.
borrowing costs.
    Index heavyweights PTT Pcl and Airports of Thailand
Pcl drove the rally in Thailand with both of
them gaining 1 percent each.
    About 13.4 million shares changed hands on the SET index,
compared to the 30-day average volume of 13.06 billion shares. 
    Investors now await the Bank of Thailand's policy meeting
and the country's February trade data for further clues. 
    The central bank is expected to keep its benchmark policy
rate steady on Wednesday for a second straight review after a
hike in December, a Reuters poll showed, in a bid to support a
slowing economy while inflation remains low.
    Customs-cleared annual exports in February may have dropped
1 percent but the country likely recorded a trade surplus of
$0.14 billion, a Reuters poll showed.
    Indonesian stocks closed lower for the first time in
five sessions ahead of the central bank's policy meeting on
    "Investors are not overly excited about Bank Indonesia's
upcoming rate decision as the monetary policy direction is
likely to be decided after the Presidential election next
month," said Taye Shim, head of research at Mirae Asset
    The central bank is widely expected to keep interest rates
unchanged for a fourth straight month, despite inflation falling
to its lowest pace in nearly a decade, a Reuters poll showed.

    Consumer stocks dragged the index lower with Astra
International Tbk Pt and Charoen Pokphand Indonesia
Tbk Pt skidding 1.4 percent and 2.6 percent,
    An index of the country's 45 most liquid stocks
declined 0.6 percent.
    Vietnam stocks were the worst hit, with losses
concentrated in financials.
    Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Investment and Development
of Vietnam and Vietnam Prosperity Joint Stock
Commercial Bank shed 1.9 percent and 2.7 percent,
    Philippine shares dropped 0.4 percent, dragged by
real estate and consumer stocks. 
    Robinsons Retail Holdings Inc dipped 4.7 percent,
while Robinsons Land Corp slid 2.9 percent.    
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 Change on the day                                
 Market                 Current   Previous close  Pct Move
 Singapore              3220.92   3212.96         0.25
 Bangkok                1630.09   1617.57         0.77
 Manila                 7843.41   7873.02         -0.38
 Jakarta                6480.276  6509.447        -0.45
 Kuala Lumpur           1687.68   1690.94         -0.19
 Ho Chi Minh            1006.59   1011.86         -0.52
 Change so far in 2019                            
 Market                 Current   End 2018        Pct Move
 Singapore              3220.92   3068.76         4.96
 Bangkok                1630.09   1563.88         4.23
 Manila                 7843.41   7,466.02        5.05
 Jakarta                6480.276  6,194.50        4.61
 Kuala Lumpur           1687.68   1690.58         -0.17
 Ho Chi Minh            1006.59   892.54          12.78
 (Reporting by Shreya Mariam Job in Bengaluru; Editing by
Subhranshu Sahu)