Southeast Asian stocks track broader decline; Singapore sheds early gains
BANGKOK, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets fell more than one percent on Monday, tracking weak regional bourses, with Singapore index erasing earlier gains from better-than-expected fourth quarter economic growth. Singapore's key Straits Times Index fell 1.6 percent to its lowest level since Dec. 21. The benchmark had risen in early trade after the city-state posted surprisingly strong economic growth for the fourth quarter but soon reversed these gains. An uncertain earnings outlook and the risk of more U.S. interest rate hikes, however, remains a key market concern, NRA Capital said in a report. "Despite the better-than-expected fourth quarter GDP numbers, economic-sensitive counters like banks and properties declined, prompting speculation of fund sales," the broker said. Stocks in the Philippines hit a two-week low while Malaysian stocks hovered around a one-week low as Asian shares and currencies fell on Monday on the back of weaker-than-expected China factory activity contracted and the yuan weakened. In Bangkok, selling led by mutual funds helped send the key SET Index to its lowest level in more than one week. "Some degree of long-term equity fund redemptions weighs on the market," strategists at broker KGI Securities wrote in a report. Losses in Indonesian stocks were relatively small, with the Jakarta composite index down 0.8 percent. JP Morgan upgraded Indonesia to "outperform", citing signs of an uptrend. Indonesia was among the underperformers in Southeast Asia last year as foreign investors exited the region, partly due to higher interest rates in the United States and on concerns about slowing economies in the mainly export-dependent region. Vietnam, the region's best performer in 2015, was a tad lower in range-bound trading after the country said it would announce a central rate for the dong/dollar each day starting from Monday, shifting from a fixed rate of 21,890 dong/dollar to allow more flexibility. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS Change at 0641 GMT Market Current Prev Close Pct Move Singapore 2837.06 2882.73 -1.58 Kuala Lumpur 1664.27 1692.51 -1.67 Bangkok 1272.45 1288.02 -1.21 Jakarta 4558.62 4593.00 -0.77 Manila 6847.01 6952.08 -1.51 Ho Chi Minh 578.18 579.03 -0.15 (Reporting by Viparat Jantraprap; Editing by Sam Holmes)
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