SE Asia Stocks -Most weak as investors await Fed; Thai shares rebound
BANGKOK, March 18 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets fell on Wednesday as investors waited for the Fed policy statement for clues on U.S. interest rates, with the Indonesian benchmark heading for its first drop in three days while the Thai index rebounded as dividend-yielding stocks led the pack. The Jakarta composite index traded down 0.4 percent after rising for a second session on Tuesday on expectation that the central bank would keep benchmark interest rates steady. Astra International eased 0.3 percent and Bank Tabungan Negara dropped 2.2 percent after climbing in the previous session. Market players appeared cutting risk positions in other markets. Stocks in the Philippines slipped 0.4 percent and Singapore was 0.2 percent lower. Vietnam edged down 0.5 percent after Tuesday's rise. Asian stocks shook off a slow start and rose, led by China shares, while the dollar marked time as markets waited for the Federal Reserve's policy statement for clues to when U.S. interest rates will rise. Market players are concerned the Fed will change its forward guidance by omitting the word 'patient' as this could indicate it will begin raising interest rates soon, brokers said. In Bangkok, bargain-hunting was active in dividend-yielding stocks such as Krung Thai Bank, which carry a forward dividend yield of 4.6 percent versus 4.1 percent of the industry, Thomson Reuters Eikon data showed. The benchmark SET index climbed 1.1 percent, its first in four days, with its 14-day relative strength index (RSI) rebounding to 37.5 from 31.2 on Tuesday, close to an oversold territory of 30 or below. The broader market remained relatively cautious, brokers said. "For short-term strategy, it is best to play wait and see ahead of the US FOMC meeting outcome tonight and until the SET index builds a strong base," strategists at broker Phillip Securities wrote in a report. For Asian Companies click; For South East Asia Hot Stock reports, click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS Change at 0747 GMT Market Current Prev Close Pct Move Singapore 3362.97 3369.95 -0.21 Kuala Lumpur 1795.93 1787.87 +0.45 Bangkok 1529.20 1512.84 +1.08 Jakarta 5417.97 5439.15 -0.39 Manila 7756.58 7789.10 -0.42 Ho Chi Minh 578.68 581.76 -0.53 (Reporting by Viparat Jantraprap; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)
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