July 19, 2019 / 3:57 AM / a month ago

SE Asia Stocks-Rise as Fed official stokes rate-cut bets

    * Trade optimism also boosts sentiment
    * Fitch upgrades Thailand outlook
    * Philippines benefits from financials

    By Soumyajit Saha
    July 19 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets rose on
Friday after a top Federal Reserve official almost sealed the
chance of a U.S. rate cut later this month, with Thailand
leading the pack as Fitch upgraded the country's outlook.
    New York Fed President John Williams said on Thursday
policymakers need to act quickly and cannot wait for economic
problems to materialise to add stimulus, in comments that the
market took as further assurances of rate cuts at the end of the
month.
    A Fed representative's clarification that the speech did not
concern potential policy actions and was based on 20 years of
research failed to dampen risk sentiment.
    The market interpreted the Fed official's comments as
dovish, ING group said in a note to clients, adding that the "go
ahead on rate cut is seen to boost risk-taking in Asia".
    Leading the charge in Southeast Asia, Thai stocks 
firmed 0.7%, helped by gains in financials.
    Credit rating agency Fitch upgraded its outlook on Thailand
to "positive" from "stable", saying the revision reflected 
increasing confidence that "lingering political risks are
unlikely to derail sound macroeconomic management."
    Lenders Siam Commercial Bank and Kasikornbank PCL
 were up 1.4% each. 
    Broader market sentiment was further sweetened by news that
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and trade representative
Robert Lighthizer spoke with their Chinese counterparts over the
phone in a bid to reach a trade deal.
    Indonesian shares rose, helped by the financial
sector. Bank Central Asia and Bank Rakyat Indonesia
(Persero) gained as much as 1% and 0.9%, respectively.
    An index of the country's 45 most liquid stocks
was up 0.4%. 
    Philippine stocks advanced, driven by the real estate
and banking sectors. Property developer SM Prime Holdings
 rose 1.3%, while lender BDO Unibank was up
1%.   
    
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SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS as at 0319 hrs
 Change on the day                               
 Market                 Current  Previous close  Pct Move
 Singapore              3374.25  3361.05         0.39
 Bangkok                1735.85  1723.44         0.72
 Manila                 8306.14  8258.05         0.58
 Jakarta                6431.52  6403.294        0.44
 Kuala Lumpur           1656.95  1648.93         0.49
 Ho Chi Minh            981.26   976.05          0.53
                                                 
 Change so far in 2019                           
 Market                 Current  End 2018        Pct Move
 Singapore              3374.25  3068.76         9.95
 Bangkok                1735.85  1563.88         11.00
 Manila                 8306.14  7,466.02        11.25
 Jakarta                6431.52  6,194.50        3.83
 Kuala Lumpur           1656.95  1690.58         -1.99
 Ho Chi Minh            981.26   892.54          9.94
 
 (Reporting by Soumyajit Saha; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)
  
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