SE Asia Stocks -Malaysia hits record high after strong GDP; Others up
May 19 (Reuters) - Malaysian shares hit a record high on Monday after the country's economic growth came in above expectations in the first quarter, while other Southeast Asian markets mostly edged up, shrugging off concerns over China's sluggish growth. Malaysia's stock index hit an all-time high of 1,888.85 points in early trading, surpassing its previous peak of 1,883.34 hit on Friday. Malaysia's annual economic growth picked up in the first quarter to its fastest in more than a year, lifted by strong exports and consumer spending that could spur the central bank to raise rates for the first time in three years. Shares of plantations-to-motoring conglomerate Sime Darby Bhd gained 1.8 percent, while largest electricity utility Tenaga Nasional Bhd rose 1 percent. However, Malaysian Airline System Bhd (MAS) shares fell 18.4 percent to a record low on Monday, its second day of sharp declines. The airline said on Thursday that a sharp drop in passenger traffic was likely to prevent it from returning to profit this year. Other Southeast Asian markets traded slightly firmer despite the rest of Asia being led down by China on concerns of slower growth in the world's second-biggest economy. Thailand's SET index rose 0.3 percent to its highest since May 6 despite data showing the country's economy shrank more than expected as exports remained weak and domestic activity was battered by months of political unrest. Regional analysts said concerns around political uncertainty could dent sentiment in risky assets and push the country into a recession. Jakarta Composite Index was up 0.1 percent as Indonesia's forerunner in the July presidential election, Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, picked popular former vice-president Jusuf Kalla as his running mate. Kalla is seen as bringing strong business credentials to the presidential ticket. Philippines outperformed the region with 0.9 percent gain, while Singapore was steady. Vietnam rose 0.3 percent. For Asian Companies click; For South East Asia Hot Stock reports, click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS Change at 0623 GMT Market Current Prev Close Pct Move TR SE Asia Index* 426.14 423.90 +0.53 Singapore 3262.58 3262.59 +0.00 Kuala Lumpur 1888.07 1883.34 +0.25 Bangkok 1409.15 1405.26 +0.28 Jakarta 5034.00 5031.57 +0.05 Manila 6876.14 6817.71 +0.86 Ho Chi Minh 530.92 529.49 +0.27 * The Thomson Reuters South East Asia Index is a highly representative indicator of stocks listed in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. (Reporting by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Prateek Chatterjee)
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