SE Asia Stocks-Rise on energy shares; Malaysia near 7-week high
BANGKOK, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets rose on Thursday as energy shares rallied in line with global oil prices, with Malaysia's key index touching a near seven-week high after economic growth in the fourth quarter slightly exceeded expectations. Kuala Lumpur composite index was up 0.8 percent at 1,678.34, the highest level since Jan. 4. Shares of oil and gas services firm Sapurakencana Petroleum jumped 5.3 percent, the biggest percentage gainer on the index. Malaysia's economy lost more momentum in the fourth quarter but grew faster than market expectations, with domestic demand helping to offset slumping oil and commodity prices. Singapore Straits Times Index jumped 1.8 percent as Asian shares, measured by MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan, climbed 1.7 percent as gains on crude oil helped improve risk sentiment. In Bangkok, the SET index was up 0.6 percent at 1,296 at midday. The index broke above the key 1,300 level at one point, led by shares of energy explorer PTT Exploration and Production which was up almost 4 percent. Broker Maybank Kim Eng Securities said it expected the index to move in a range of 1,280-1,290, supported mainly by energy stocks and after foreign investor-led buying of shares this week. "The high accumulation of Thai stocks by foreigners will help regain investor confidence," the broker said. Indonesia rose 0.6 percent, hovering around the highest level since Aug. 7. Investors were waiting for cues from a central bank meeting later in the day when benchmark interest rates are expected to be cut for the second time this year. Stocks in the Philippines extended gains for a fourth day to the highest since Jan. 6. Vietnam advanced about 1 percent, at one point hitting the highest since mid-January. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS Change at 0615 GMT Market Current Prev Close Pct Move Singapore 2661.07 2613.79 +1.81 Kuala Lumpur 1678.34 1664.32 +0.84 Bangkok 1296.44 1288.47 +0.62 Jakarta 4792.84 4765.51 +0.57 Manila 6828.09 6756.82 +1.05 Ho Chi Minh 552.44 547.05 +0.99 (Reporting by Viparat Jantraprap; ; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath)
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