SE Asia Stocks-Most fall on U.S. rate outlook; quarterly results in focus
BANGKOK, July 20 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets fell on Monday as investors pared equity holdings in anticipation of a U.S. interest rate hike this year, while the Thai benchmark dropped to a more than one-week low, led by energy and bank shares. The Thai SET index was down 0.6 percent at 1469.97, the lowest since July 9. Shares of top energy firm PTT Pcl , the most actively traded by turnover, dropped 1.5 percent as global oil prices edged lower. The banking sub-index was down 0.4 percent. Shares in Kasikornbank Pcl eased 0.3 percent after the bank reported higher non-performing loans and a lower net profit for the second quarter. The SET index is set for another sideways session on Monday, strategists at broker KGI Securities wrote in report. "Although the Greek debt crisis has bottomed out, traders seem to have shifted their concerns from Greece to the timing of the U.S. Fed rate hike," they said. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said last week the U.S. central bank remains on track to raise interest rates this year, with labour markets expected to steadily improve and turmoil abroad unlikely to throw the U.S. economy off track. In the Philippines, the key index shed 1 percent, reversing from a near three-week closing high on Thursday before the market closed for a holiday. Data early on Monday showed the Philippines ran a 86.4 billion pesos ($1.91 billion) budget surplus in the first five months of 2015, more than ten times higher than a year earlier, hurting chances of faster second-quarter economic growth. Stocks in Malaysia retreated after rising to the highest since July 3 earlier in the day, while Vietnam shares hit the lowest since July 9. Singapore stocks bucked the trend, climbing to the highest since June 2. Investors in Southeast Asia awaited corporate quarterly financial results, brokers said. Indonesia's stock market will remain closed through July 21 for Eid al-Fitr celebrations. The U.S. dollar held firm in Asia on Monday as investors looked ahead to higher interest rates from the Federal Reserve, while gold slumped to five-year lows as a lack of global inflation left little to hedge against. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS Change at 0732 GMT Market Current Prev Close Pct Move Singapore 3368.80 3353.45 +0.46 Kuala Lumpur 1723.49 1726.73 -0.19 Bangkok 1469.97 1479.31 -0.63 Manila 7541.17 7617.13 -1.00 Ho Chi Minh 622.60 628.63 -0.96 (Reporting by Viparat Jantraprap; Editing by Anupama Dwivedi)
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