February 8, 2019 / 4:01 AM / 5 months ago

SE Asia Stocks-Tumble on fresh trade war woes; Philippines worst hit

    * Philippines on track to snap five weeks of gains
    * Malaysia's Axiata to foot $533.59 million tax bill

    By Shreya Mariam Job
    Feb 8 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets fell on
Friday with Philippines slipping the most, after U.S. President
Donald Trump said he did not plan to meet his Chinese
counterpart Xi Jinping before the 90-day truce deadline,
renewing fears of a prolonged trade war. 
    A person briefed on the talks said that Trump's advisers
were concerned that accepting a meeting invitation at this stage
would raise unfounded expectations for a quick deal and erode
U.S. leverage in the talks, where the two sides remain far apart
on core structural intellectual property issues.
    With their largest trade partner to possibly face further
trade tariffs, stock markets in export-reliant Southeast Asian
economies and broader Asia tumbled. 
    MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
 shed 0.7 percent, easing back from a four-month
peak touched the previous day. 
    "Asian markets that have re-opened (after Chinese New Year
holidays) are likely to trade with a risk-off tone today as
market players re-grapple with the likelihood of US-China
resuming their trade war at the end of the 90-day truce period,"
OCBC said in a note.
    The Philippine index dropped 0.7 percent and is on
track to snap five straight weeks of gains. 
    Weakness in financial and industrial stocks hurt the index,
with BDO Unibank Inc and SM Investment Corp
dipping 1.4 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively. 
    The country's central bank held interest rates steady for a
second straight meeting on Thursday, saying inflation risk had
fallen on lower crude oil and food prices. 
    The Malaysian benchmark dropped 0.5 percent, dragged
by losses in index heavyweight Axiata Group Bhd.
    Media reports said the Supreme Court in Nepal had ruled that
Axiata Group and its unit Ncell have to foot a tax bill of 61
billion Nepalese rupees ($533.59 million), excluding late fees
and fines for the capital gains tax on Ncell buyout deal.

    Shares of the telecom behemoth dropped as much as 5 percent
to their lowest since Dec 18. Meanwhile, those of Tenaga
Nasional Bhd slid 1.2 percent.
    The Thai index dipped 0.4 percent, hurt by energy
and financial stocks with PTT PCL dropping 1 percent
and Kasikornbank PCL losing 1.5 percent. 
     Thailand's royalty made an unprecedented move into politics
on Friday when the sister of King Maha Vajiralongkorn was
declared as a prime ministerial candidate for March 24
elections, registration papers showed. Thailand has been a
constitutional monarchy since 1932. 
    Vietnam's financial markets remained closed this week for
Chinese New Year holidays.

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 Change on the day                                
 Market                 Current   Previous close  Pct Move
 Singapore              3195.54   3200.64         -0.16
 Bangkok                1646.1    1653.11         -0.42
 Manila                 8043.32   8100.3          -0.70
 Jakarta                6516.147  6536.457        -0.31
 Kuala Lumpur           1685.62   1693.39         -0.46
 Change so far in 2019                            
 Market                 Current   End 2018        Pct Move
 Singapore              3195.54   3068.76         4.13
 Bangkok                1646.1    1563.88         5.26
 Manila                 8043.32   7,466.02        7.73
 Jakarta                6516.147  6,194.50        5.19
 Kuala Lumpur           1685.62   1690.58         -0.29
 ($1 = 114.3200 Nepalese rupees)

 (Reporting by Shreya Mariam Job in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi
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