March 19, 2018 / 10:02 AM / in a month

SE Asia Stocks-Most slip ahead of Fed decision; Vietnam up

    * U.S. Fed rate decision due on March 21
    * Philippines recovers from early falls
    * Vietnam rises for 6th straight session

    By Aaron Saldanha
    March 19 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets
edged lower on Monday, in line with broader Asia, as caution
gripped investors ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve's two-day
policy meeting that starts on Tuesday.
    With a 25 basis point rate hike seen as a done deal, a key
focus is on whether Fed policymakers forecast four rate hikes
this year in their "dot plot" projections, instead of three they
projected at a December meeting.
    "As far as equities go, I think people will be a bit more
risk-off if there are more rate hikes than expected," said Fio
Dejesus, an equity research analyst with RCBC Securities.
    Thai shares were the biggest losers in Southeast
Asia, hurt by weakness in energy stocks. Oil and gas firm PTT
Pcl dropped 2.2 percent.    
    Singapore shares fell for a fourth straight session,
with financials among the top losers. Lender Oversea-Chinese
Banking Corp Ltd declined 0.9 percent, while DBS Group
Holdings Ltd slipped 0.6 percent.
    Indonesian shares slipped, weighed down by consumer
discretionary and materials stocks.
    Astra International Tbk PT fell 2.4 percent to its
lowest close July 2016.
    An index of the country's 45 most liquid stocks
slipped 0.1 percent.
    Philippine shares recovered from early falls to close
marginally lower with financial and consumer discretionary
stocks leading the recovery. Ayala Corp ended 2 percent
higher.
    "You have to take into account that the Philippines has
already been correcting for the past two weeks, so perhaps the
valuations are now better than they have been recently," said
Dejesus.
    The benchmark stock index has declined 3.8 percent
year-to-date after gaining about 25 percent in 2017.
    Malaysian shares closed slightly higher, helped by
gains in financials and telecom services stocks. Public Bank Bhd
 gained 0.4 percent.
    Vietnam shares rose for a sixth straight session,
helped by real estate stocks and industrials, and posted their
highest close since March 2007.

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SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS: Change on day
  Market                  Current   Previous close  Pct
                                                    Move
  Singapore               3498.29   3512.14         -0.39
  Bangkok                 1799.79   1811.76         -0.66
  Manila                  8235.54   8238.15         -0.03
  Jakarta                 6289.572  6304.952        -0.24
  Kuala Lumpur            1847.94   1846.39         0.08
 Ho Chi Minh              1159.22   1150.19         0.79
                                                    
  Change so far in 2018                             
  Market                  Current   End 2017        Pct
                                                    Move
  Singapore               3498.29   3402.92         2.80
  Bangkok                 1799.79   1753.71         2.63
  Manila                  8235.54   8558.42         -3.77
  Jakarta                 6289.572  6355.654        -1.04
  Kuala Lumpur            1847.94   1796.81         2.85
  Ho Chi Minh             1159.22   984.24          17.78
 
 (Reporting by Aaron Saldanha in Bengaluru; Editing by
Subhranshu Sahu)
  
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