February 20, 2019 / 10:01 AM / a month ago

SE Asia Stocks-Rise on hopes of trade deal deadline extension, monetary policy easing

    * Malaysia posts third straight session of gains
    * Risk appetite widens on hopes of monetary easing
    * Singapore hits over 6-month closing high

    By Shreya Mariam Job
    Feb 20 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets closed
higher on Wednesday, with Philippines leading the gains, on
hopes of an extension to the deadline for a U.S.-China trade
deal, and expected easing in monetary policies in the region. 
    U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that trade talks
with China were going well and suggested he was open to pushing
off the deadline to complete negotiations.
    Tariffs on $200 billion worth of imports from China -
Southeast Asia's biggest trading partner - are scheduled to rise
to 25 percent from 10 percent by March 1 if the world's two
largest economies do not settle their trade dispute. 
    Also, a slowing global economy and increasing strain on
businesses from a year-long Sino-U.S. trade war are tilting
central banks from Japan to Australia towards monetary easing in
a remarkable 180 degree turn.
    With the U.S. Federal Reserve releasing minutes of their
meeting later on Wednesday, expectations of Southeast Asian
nations easing policies amid a dovish Fed, boosted investor
sentiment.
    The Philippine index led gains in the region, ending
1.4 percent higher, driven by industrial and real estate stocks.
SM Prime Holdings Inc and Ayala Land Inc rose
3.3 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively.
    Deputy governor of the Philippine central bank Diwa
Guinigundo said on Tuesday the bank will act swiftly if it
judges there is not enough liquidity in the financial system to
maintain economic momentum, leading economists to expect some
form of monetary easing.    
    The Malaysian benchmark gained over 1 percent on the
back of material and consumer stocks.  
    Malaysia's Petronas Chemicals Group Bhd rose 2.8
percent after Spanish oil and gas firm Repsol said the
company with its partners - Petronas and MOECO - discovered gas
resources in Indonesia.
    The country's January consumer prices are expected to fall,
the first decline in nearly a decade, amid a drop in domestic
fuel prices, according to a Reuters poll.
    Singapore's index closed at its highest level in more
than six months, boosted by utilities and telecom stocks.
    Shares of Capitaland Ltd rose to an over five-and-
a-half-month closing high, after recording a 71.2 percent surge
in fourth-quarter profit and the highest annual profit in a
decade.
    Indonesia and Thai indexes firmed 0.3
percent and 0.6 percent, respectively, while the Vietnam
benchmark gained 0.7 percent. 
    

    
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SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS
    
 Change on the day                                
 Market                 Current   Previous close  Pct Move
 Singapore              3278.38   3259.8          0.57
 Bangkok                1645.38   1635.71         0.59
 Manila                 7939.24   7833.75         1.35
 Jakarta                6512.784  6494.667        0.28
 Kuala Lumpur           1726.18   1706.56         1.15
 Ho Chi Minh            970.58    964.35          0.65
                                                  
 Change so far in 2019                            
 Market                 Current   End 2018        Pct Move
 Singapore              3278.38   3068.76         6.83
 Bangkok                1645.38   1563.88         5.21
 Manila                 7939.24   7,466.02        6.34
 Jakarta                6512.784  6,194.50        5.14
 Kuala Lumpur           1726.18   1690.58         2.11
 Ho Chi Minh            970.58    892.54          8.74
 
 (Reporting by Shreya Mariam Job in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi
Aich)
  
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