SE Asia Stocks - Most retreat; Singapore near two-week high
BANGKOK, March 20 (Reuters) - Most major Southeast Asian stock markets fell on Friday, reversing the previous day's gains in reaction to a dovish U.S. central bank, but the Singapore benchmark rose to a near two-week high amid buying in select dividend-yielding large caps. Singapore's key Straits Times Index traded up 0.6 percent at 3,406.94, the highest since March 10. Shares of Singapore Telecommunications, the most actively traded by turnover, gained 1 percent to their highest since Feb. 27. The index is on track to post a weekly gain of 1.3 percent after the prior week's loss. In Bangkok, investors booked profits in telecoms shares such as Advanced Info Service, pulling the broader SET index 0.9 percent lower and on track for a weekly drop of 1.5 percent, a fifth successive week of declines. Brokers said foreign flows remained supportive. "Less concern about an imminent Fed hike and the start of European QE began to support equity flows and should help limit the downside of SET," strategists at broker KGI Securities wrote in a report. Stocks in Indonesia edged down 0.4 percent, erasing some of Thursday's 0.75 percent rise but still heading to end the week 0.1 percent higher. Philippine shares eased 0.2 percent, on track for a slide of 0.2 percent on the week. Malaysia was down 0.4 percent, its first fall in four sessions, and is set to close up about 1 percent on the week. The pullback in the region came on the back of weak U.S. stocks overnight while Asian stocks stalled on Friday as Federal Reserve-inspired gains petered out. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was little changed after rallying 1.3 percent the previous day. For Asian Companies click; For South East Asia Hot Stock reports, click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS Change at 0504 GMT Market Current Prev Close Pct Move Singapore 3406.94 3386.16 +0.61 Kuala Lumpur 1801.10 1809.13 -0.44 Bangkok 1518.80 1532.13 -0.87 Jakarta 5432.52 5453.85 -0.39 Manila 7797.52 7814.55 -0.22 Ho Chi Minh 575.17 573.74 +0.25 (Reporting by Viparat Jantraprap; Editing by Sunil Nair)
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