SE Asia Stocks-Mixed in range-bound trade; economic data in focus
BANGKOK, Feb 29 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets were mixed in range-bound trade on Monday as investors shifted focus to monthly economic data to gauge the health of the region, with weak sentiment in Asia capping risk appetite. Singapore's benchmark Straits Times Index was up 0.4 percent at a near-one-week high of 2,660.07. Banks were actively traded, led by a 0.4 percent rise in United Overseas Bank, after the city-state said total bank lending in January rose from December as business loans to manufacturers and financial institutions increased. Singapore is on track for a gain of about 1 percent this month, in line with positive performances by most other sharemarkets, bringing in foreign inflows again after the outflows in January. The Thai SET index reversed the previous week's rally, slipping 0.3 percent, after a worse-than-expected fall in industrial output in January due to the impact of weak global and domestic demand. Broker Maybank Kim Eng Securities sees limited market downside ahead of a set of January economic data later in the day. "If Thailand's economic numbers for January continue to recover, especially those relating to government investment and domestic consumption, we see less chance of a 2016 earnings and target price downgrade in the next phase," its report said. The Thai index is set to notch up a monthly gain of nearly 3 percent, almost as much as Indonesia, both lifted by foreign-led buying. Vietnam is poised to lead gains in the region with a 4 percent rise during February. Malaysia and Indonesia will be releasing money supply data in January later in the day. Asian stocks were off to a cautious start after a weekend meeting of the Group of 20 economic policymakers ended with no new coordinated action to spur global growth and solid U.S. data revived expectations of a U.S. rate hike before year-end. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS Change at 0538 GMT Market Current Prev Close Pct Move Singapore 2660.07 2649.38 +0.40 Kuala Lumpur 1656.77 1663.44 -0.40 Bangkok 1338.94 1343.07 -0.31 Jakarta 4756.13 4733.15 +0.49 Manila 6760.18 6771.30 -0.16 Ho Chi Minh 564.10 566.11 -0.36 (Reporting by Viparat Jantraprap; Editing by Sunil Nair)
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