SE Asia Stocks - Mostly flat-to-weaker; Indonesia up on rupiah
BANGKOK, March 24 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets were flat-to-weaker on Tuesday after a measure of Chinese factory activity came in weaker than expected, but the Indonesian benchmark eked out small gains in line with a rise in the rupiah. Jakarta's composite index gained 0.1 percent after modest losses over the ast two trading days. Domestic-led buying lifted selected large-caps such as Matahari Putra, Bank Rakyat Indonesia and Telkom Indonesia. The rupiah rose to its highest in more than two weeks on Tuesday, partly as uncertainty over the timing of U.S. interest rate hikes lifted most emerging Asian currencies. It also won some respite after Indonesia's finance minister said on Monday he would work with the central bank to strengthen the currency, which hit a near 17-year low against the dollar last week. In Bangkok, the SET index was down 0.9 percent to its lowest since Jan. 8. It is heading for a third day of declines amid profit-taking in telecoms shares such as Advanced Info Service, recently boosted by the government's auction plan of spectrum licences for 4G wireless broadband services. China's manufacturing PMI data painted a picture of further slowdown while a weak domestic economy dashed hopes for strong earnings growth, strategists at broker Phillip Securities wrote in a report. "Slowing economic activity in the first quarter may also possibly lead to another round of corporate earnings downgrades, a factor that could keep the correction going for a little longer," it said. The flash HSBC/Markit Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) dipped to 49.2 in March, below the 50-point level. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast a reading of 50.6, slightly weaker than February's final PMI of 50.7. Singapore's key index headed for a flat session for a second day, the Philippines fell 0.4 percent after three days of gains, Vietnam dropped 1.2 percent to the lowest since Feb. 5., while Malaysia rebounded 0.8 percent after two days of falls. For Asian Companies click; For South East Asia Hot Stock reports, click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS Change at 0710 GMT Market Current Prev Close Pct Move Singapore 3411.97 3410.13 +0.05 Kuala Lumpur 1808.87 1795.85 +0.73 Bangkok 1505.95 1520.01 -0.92 Jakarta 5443.34 5437.10 +0.11 Manila 7806.04 7840.49 -0.44 Ho Chi Minh 564.22 570.89 -1.17 (Reporting by Viparat Jantraprap; Editing by Sunil Nair)
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