SE Asia Stocks-Most weaker; Indonesia rises ahead of rate decision
BANGKOK, March 16 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets fell on Monday, with the Thai index closing at a more than two-month low amid sell-offs in index heavyweights but the Indonesian benchmark eked out small gains as banking shares rose ahead of the central bank's rate decision. The Thai SET index ended down 1.7 percent at 1,515.57, the lowest close since Jan. 7. Among top losers, shares of PTT Exploration and Production Pcl dropped 3.7 percent and Siam Commercial Bank slipped 1.7 percent. The prospect of a weaker-than-expected economy dashed hopes for strong earnings growth, KT Zmico Securities said in a report. The broker cut the SET index target for end-2015 to 1,675 from 1,750, reflecting a downgrade in average earnings per share for listed firms to 102 baht from 111.60 baht. Indonesia edged up 0.2 percent amid foreign inflows into large-cap banks such as Bank Mandiri and Bank Rakyat Indonesia. Indonesia's central bank is expected to hold its key policy rate steady at 7.50 percent on Tuesday to aid a falling rupiah that has weighed on stock market sentiment. Investors in the region awaited cues on the direction of U.S. interest rates, with a two-day Federal Open Market Committee policy meeting starting on March 17. Stocks in the Philippines fell for a second trading day, down 1 percent to its lowest close since Feb. 27, Malaysia ended slightly lower after a rangebound session and Vietnam lost almost 1 percent to the lowest close since Feb. 10. Singapore ended five sessions of losses and rose 0.4 percent, with battered large-caps such as United Overseas Bank leading the rebound. For Asian Companies click; For South East Asia Hot Stock reports, click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS Change on day Market Current Prev Close Pct Move Singapore 3376.04 3362.77 +0.39 Kuala Lumpur 1780.54 1781.75 -0.07 Bangkok 1515.57 1541.55 -1.69 Jakarta 5435.27 5426.47 +0.16 Manila 7730.95 7809.54 -1.01 Ho Chi Minh 580.80 586.10 -0.90 Change on year Market Current End 2014 Pct Move Singapore 3376.04 3365.15 +0.32 Kuala Lumpur 1780.54 1761.25 +1.10 Bangkok 1515.57 1497.67 +1.20 Jakarta 5435.27 5226.95 +3.99 Manila 7730.95 7230.57 +6.92 Ho Chi Minh 580.80 545.63 +6.45 (Reporting by Viparat Jantraprap; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath)
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