SE Asia Stocks-Higher before Fed decision; Thai central bank seen keeping rate steady
BANGKOK, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets rose on Wednesday in line with gains in Asia before a likely hike in U.S. interest rates, with investors buying Thai financial stocks ahead of the Bank of Thailand's interest rate decision. Thai SET index rose 0.2 percent at midday, pushed higher by a 2 percent rise in shares of lender Bangkok Bank Pcl and a 3.2 percent jump in shares of hire purchase firm Srisawad Power Pcl. Expectations that the central bank's monetary policy committee would keep the one-day repurchase rate steady at 1.5 percent, rather than a cut, eased concerns over near-term earnings impact on financial firms, traders said. The rate decision is due out around 0740 GMT. "A steady rate call will be positive for hire purchase plays," said broker Krungsri Securities. Stocks in Indonesia and the Philippines gained. The central banks of both countries are expected to hold monetary policy steady on Thursday. Vietnam's benchmark VN Index rose 1.16 percent by the break on Wednesday, on track for a second straight gain with banks leading a rally by most shares. Singapore rose for a second day and Malaysia gained after six sessions of losses. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS Change at 0553 GMT Market Current Prev Close Pct Move Singapore 2839.23 2815.52 +0.84 Kuala Lumpur 1633.68 1622.84 +0.67 Bangkok 1303.20 1300.51 +0.21 Jakarta 4454.45 4409.17 +1.03 Manila 6805.55 6701.35 +1.55 Ho Chi Minh 574.60 568.00 +1.16 (Reporting by Viparat Jantraprap; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)
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