* Malaysian stocks hit highest since Nov. 22 * Indonesian equities gain for fourth session * Philippine index reverses losses By Shruti Sonal Dec 18 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian markets ended higher on Wednesday, with Malaysia and Thailand leading gains, as a run of upbeat data from the United States eased recession and global slowdown fears. U.S. homebuilding increased more than expected in November and permits for future home construction surged to a 12-1/2-year high, while a strong rebound was seen in manufacturing production in the previous month. Thai stocks jumped over 1%, underpinned by gains in telecom and energy stocks. Communication stocks were supported by news of an industry watchdog drafting regulations for licensing of 5G technology by March next year, said Phillip Capital Thailand analyst Teerada Charnyingyong. Advanced Info Service PCL rose over 3.8% to hit its highest since Nov. 29, while energy conglomerate PTT PCL gained 2.3%. The country's central bank left its benchmark interest rate unchanged at a record low on Wednesday. Industrials helped the Philippine index reverse losses, although gains were capped due to a drag in financials. DMCI Holdings and Manila Electric Co ended 9.6% and 0.7% higher, respectively. Financials were pressured by reports about the central bank probing about ten banks for ties with Australia's scandal-hit Westpac Banking Corp, according to Richard Laneda, Senior Research Manager at COL Financial Group. Bank of the Philippine Islands, which is the local remittance partner of Westpac, slumped over 3.9% to its lowest since July 12. Malaysian equities jumped 1.4% to hit their highest since Nov. 22, lifted by healthcare units and industrials. Top Glove Corporation Bhd, which posted an increase in its quarterly net profit on Tuesday, extended gains to touch its highest since July 12. Indonesian stocks were buoyed by financials and real estate stocks. Foreign interest in Indonesian markets is driven by rotation from bonds to equities due to the end of the rate-cut cycle and "from the developed markets into emerging markets," said Mirae Asset analyst Taye Shim. The country's central bank is scheduled to meet on Thursday, where it will likely keep rates unchanged, a Reuters poll showed. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS Change on the day Market Current Previous close Pct Move Singapore 3209.54 3200.8 0.27 Bangkok 1563.74 1548.65 0.97 Manila 7733.67 7730.45 0.04 Jakarta 6287.25 6244.352 0.69 Kuala Lumpur 1599.11 1576.95 1.41 Ho Chi Minh 951.13 954.03 -0.30 Change so far in 2019 Market Current End 2018 Pct Move Singapore 3209.54 3068.76 4.59 Bangkok 1563.74 1563.88 -0.01 Manila 7733.67 7,466.02 3.58 Jakarta 6287.25 6,194.50 1.50 Kuala Lumpur 1599.11 1690.58 -5.41 Ho Chi Minh 951.13 892.54 6.56 (Reporting by Shruti Sonal in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.