January 31, 2019 / 10:16 AM / in 6 months

SE Asia Stocks-Most rise on dovish Fed; Indonesia leads gains

    * Indonesia climbs over 1 pct, posts 3rd straight monthly
    * Philippines post biggest monthly gain since March 2016

    By Mensholong Lepcha
    Jan 31 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets rose
on Thursday on the U.S. Federal Reserve's dovish outlook, with
Indonesia hitting a near 11-month high while Philippines erased
some of its gains after the country's central bank flagged an
acceleration in inflation. 
    The Fed kept rates at 2.25 percent to 2.5 percent on
Wednesday as widely expected, which are well below historical
    The U.S. central bank also discarded its promises of
"further gradual increases" in interest rates, and said it would
be "patient" before making any further moves amid signs of
global economic slowdown and a damaging trade war with China.
    Rising U.S. borrowing costs in 2018 had led to massive
capital flight from emerging markets, prompting regional central
banks to hike rates to reduce the rate differential and combat a
stronger U.S. dollar. 
    "Markets clearly like the newly dovish Fed, which had
exceeded expectations for dovishness in the midst of a positive
output gap and tight labor market," Mizuho Bank said in a client
    Indonesian shares jumped 1.1 percent, boosted by
financial and industrial stocks. The index rose 5.5 percent in
January in its third straight monthly gain.
    Bank Central Asia and Unilever Indonesia
gained about 2 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively.
    An index of the country's top 45 liquid stocks
climbed 1.5 percent to its highest since April 2018.
    Philippine shares closed 0.3 percent higher after
gaining as much as 1.5 percent earlier in the session.
    The benchmark stock index pared its gains after the central
bank said January annual inflation is likely to settle within a
range of 4.3 percent to 5.1 percent, above its target of 2-4
percent for 2019.
    Surging inflation had dented consumption and put pressure on
the peso in 2018, prompting Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to hike
its benchmark rate five times. 
    The Philippine stock index added 7.3 percent in January, in 
its sharpest monthly gain since March 2016.
    Gains in energy and financial stocks helped Thai shares
 rise about 0.6 percent to a near 8-week closing high.
    Index heavyweights PTT and PTT Exploration and
Production climbed 0.5 percent and 1.7 percent,
    Elsewhere, Vietnam shares ended 0.6 percent lower,
while Malaysian shares retreated from early gains to
close flat.
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 Change on the day                                
 Market                 Current   Previous close  Pct Move
 Singapore              3190.17   3174.38         0.50
 Bangkok                1641.73   1632.6          0.56
 Manila                 8007.48   7979.95         0.34
 Jakarta                6532.969  6464.189        1.06
 Kuala Lumpur           1683.53   1684.11         -0.03
 Ho Chi Minh            910.65    915.84          -0.57
 Change so far in 2019                            
 Market                 Current   End 2018        Pct Move
 Singapore              3190.17   3068.76         3.96
 Bangkok                1641.73   1563.88         4.98
 Manila                 8007.48   7,466.02        7.25
 Jakarta                6532.969  6,194.50        5.46
 Kuala Lumpur           1683.53   1690.58         -0.42
 Ho Chi Minh            910.65    892.54          2.03
 (Reporting by Mensholong Lepcha and Aditya Soni; Editing by
Subhranshu Sahu)
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