SE Asia Stocks-Philippine shares rise; more rate hikes seen after Aug inflation
BANGKOK, Sept 5 (Reuters) - Philippine shares scaled a fresh 15-month high on Friday, heading for the best weekly gain since April, as a higher-than-expected monthly inflation spurred expectations of possible interest rate hikes, boosting financial stocks. Data released early on Friday showed core inflation in the Philippines quickened to a 17-month high in August, reinforcing views the central bank is likely to tighten policy rates again at next week's meeting to rein in growing inflation pressures. "Faster core with or without base effect supports our rate hike forecast in next week's Monetary Board meeting," said Citi Research in a report. The Philippine stock index was up 0.7 percent at 7,254.57, climbing at one point to 7,264.87, the highest level since May 27, 2013. Shares of Metro Pacific Investments Corp and BDO Unibank Inc were among outperformers. The index is on track to post a weekly gain of about 3 percent, the highest since the week ended April 4. In Bangkok, investors bought banks such as Siam Commercial Bank and Bangkok Bank, with brokers citing the benefits of recoveries in domestic economy and more stable political situation. The key SET index was 0.07 percent higher by midday, on track for a weekly gain of 1.5 percent, rising for the fifth straight week. Selling by domestic trigger funds, which redeem when the index hits a target level, could limit any strong market rally, brokers said. "Local institutional investors may continue to lock in recent gains. The SET upside may be limited, despite positive news flow from Europe," strategists of broker KGI Securities said in a report. The European Central Bank (ECB) cut interest rates to a record low on Thursday and launched a new scheme to push money into the flagging euro zone economy, surprising markets and leaving open the option of more to come. Reaction on ECB stimulus was mixed, with stocks in Singapore and Malaysia drifting into negative territory while Indonesia and Vietnam posted modest gains. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan eased back 0.6 percent, having already reached its loftiest level since early 2008. For Asian Companies click; For South East Asia Hot Stock reports, click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS Change at 0639 GMT Market Current Prev Close Pct Move TR SE Asia Index* 446.01 446.79 -0.17 Singapore 3327.23 3346.34 -0.57 Kuala Lumpur 1867.38 1869.21 -0.09 Bangkok 1580.80 1579.73 +0.07 Jakarta 5211.40 5205.32 +0.12 Manila 7252.77 7204.11 +0.68 Ho Chi Minh 641.71 640.22 +0.23 * 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 Kaweewit Kaewjinda and Viparat Jantraprap; Editing by Anand Basu)
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