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SE Asia Stocks-Most fall as tariff comments dim Sino-U.S. trade deal optimism

    * Philippines sheds more than 1.5%, the most in a month
    * U.S.-China Phase 1 trade deal to be signed later on
    * China Q4 growth likely weakest in nearly 30 years -
Reuters poll

    By Sameer Manekar
    Jan 15 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets
settled lower on Wednesday, with Philippines declining the most
in a month, as comments from a top U.S. official that tariffs on
Chinese goods would remain in place for now tempered optimism
about an interim trade deal.
    U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Tuesday that
Washington would maintain tariffs on Chinese goods until the
completion of a second phase trade agreement.
    His comments came a day before the signing of the Phase 1
agreement that aims to increase Chinese purchases of U.S.
manufactured products, agricultural goods, energy and services,
and also draw a line under the 18-month-long tit-for-tat tariff
spat that has roiled global markets.
    U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He
are slated to sign the accord in Washington later in the day.
    Continuing U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods despite the trade
deal raise fears of poor trade and economic performance in the
region, Christine Natasya, an equity analyst at Mirae Asset
Indonesia, said.
    Meanwhile, the region's largest trading partner, China,
likely grew at its weakest pace in nearly 30 years in the fourth
quarter, a Reuters poll showed. The data will be released on
    Among Southeast Asian markets, Philippine shares fell
1.7% as a volcano near the capital city Manila continued to spew
ash and steam, dampening sentiment.
    Investors are uncertain regarding the Taal volcano eruption
and its impact on the gross domestic product, since there is no
exact prediction as to when the volcano might erupt, Rachelle
Cruz, analyst at AP Securities, said.
    Losses in blue chips dragged down the index, with SM
Investments Corp and Ayala Land losing 1.6%
    Indonesian shares snapped a four-session winning
streak, with financial and communication firms losing the most.
    Indonesia's trade deficit narrowed in December, following
its largest trade gap in seven months in the prior month, data
    Bank Mandiri (Persero) and Telekomunikasi
Indonesia lost 1.3% and 1.8%.
    Industrial and financial stocks weighed on Singapore's
benchmark index. Industrial conglomerate Jardine
Strategic Holdings and United Overseas Bank
shed 1.5% and 0.6%, respectively.
    Thai stocks snapped four straight sessions of gains,
dragged by heavy losses in utilities. Electricity generators
Global Power Synergy dropped 4.9%, while Gulf Energy
Development fell 2.1%.
    Malaysian equities reversed course in the last half
an hour of trading to settle 0.3% higher.
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 Change on the day                                
 Market                 Current   Previous close  Pct Move
 Singapore              3256.98   3270.54         -0.41
 Bangkok                1581.05   1586.9          -0.37
 Manila                 7664.4    7793.25         -1.65
 Jakarta                6283.365  6325.406        -0.66
 Kuala Lumpur           1585.14   1580.6          0.29
 Ho Chi Minh            967.56    967             0.06
 Change so far in 2020                            
 Market                 Current   End 2019        Pct Move
 Singapore              3256.98   3222.83         1.06
 Bangkok                1581.05   1579.84         0.08
 Manila                 7664.4    7,815.26        -1.93
 Jakarta                6283.365  6,299.54        -0.26
 Kuala Lumpur           1585.14   1588.76         -0.23
 Ho Chi Minh            967.56    960.99          0.68
 (Reporting by Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru; Editing by
Subhranshu Sahu)