SE Asia Stocks-Most down on oil, mixed data; Singapore hits 1-wk low
BANGKOK, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets retreated on Wednesday amid selling in energy shares and mixed data from the region, with Singapore hitting a one-week low as better-than-expected growth failed to ease concerns about the impact of a global slowdown. The key Straits Times Index dropped 2 percent to the lowest since Feb. 17, with 28 out of 30 stocks gauged by the index falling. The city-state's economy grew faster than estimated in the fourth quarter but a deeper contraction in the key manufacturing sector and a downgrade to trade growth for this year will keep pressure on policy makers to step up stimulus. In Kuala Lumpur, shares were moderately down 0.6 percent after the inflation rate in January surged to the fastest level in nearly two years but was not expected to lead to any hike of the country's benchmark interest rate. Stocks in the Philippines slipped 1.4 percent as imports in December tumbled nearly 26 percent from a year earlier. The market will be closed on Thursday for a holiday. Thai stocks and Indonesia were little changed, with shares in energy firms such as PTT and Perusahaan Gas Negara among losers. Vietnam climbed 1 percent on gains in banking stocks. Falling oil prices dampened global market strength and risk appetite, the Bangkok-based Asia Wealth Securities said. "Some investors even think global slowdown may be more significant than expected and falling oil prices could prolong," the broker said in a report. Investors turned cautious in a weak reporting season. Shares of Philippines' Metropolitan Bank and Trust, for instance, dropped 1.6 percent after it posted a 16.3 percent fall in 2015 net income. A survey by business advisory firm PwC showed chief executives in ASEAN were losing confidence in revenue growth as a gloomy global economy affected sales in the region. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS Change at 0608 GMT Market Current Prev Close Pct Move Singapore 2622.72 2672.07 -1.85 Kuala Lumpur 1667.73 1677.28 -0.57 Bangkok 1326.44 1325.79 +0.05 Jakarta 4644.85 4654.05 -0.20 Manila 6727.55 6819.34 -1.35 Ho Chi Minh 567.41 561.28 +1.09 (Reporting by Viparat Jantraprap; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath)
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