SE Asia Stocks-Mixed as U.S. Fed rate clues in focus
BANGKOK, March 16 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets were mixed on Wednesday as Asia awaited clues on an interest rate hike in the United States this year as the Federal Reserve started a much-awaited two-day policy meeting. The Thai SET index slipped 0.7 percent to a one-week low. Selling hit large caps such as banks, which had been among top gainers amid foreign inflows and improved global risk appetite over the past weeks. "Investors are taking a cautious stance ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve's policy statement," said strategists at broker Asia Wealth Securities in a report. The Philippines' key index dropped 1 percent after six successive days of gains, while Singapore's index extended losses to a second day after a central bank survey showed economists cut economic forecasts. The U.S. Federal Reserve is expected to hold interest rates steady on Wednesday as it balances continued concern about the health of the global economy with fresh signs that domestic inflation is starting to rear its head. Stocks in Indonesia were nearly flat with market awaiting Indonesia's central bank interest rate decision on Thursday. Vietnam rebounded, while Malaysia recouped early losses, with the ringgit, seen undervalued, supportive to inflows. Shares of Bangkok-listed Kasikornbank shed almost 5 percent, the biggest percentage loser on MSCI's index of Southeast Asia. Energy-related shares such as Adaro Energy outperformed as global oil prices rose on expectations U.S. output will decline further. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS Change at 0701 GMT Market Current Previous close Pct Move Singapore 2837.78 2839.44 -0.06 Bangkok 1373.19 1382.93 -0.70 Manila 7073.95 7148.26 -1.04 Jakarta 4850.879 4849.781 0.02 Kuala Lumpur 1691.44 1690.92 0.03 Ho Chi Minh 577.55 574.04 0.61 (Reporting by Viparat Jantraprap; Editing by Anand Basu)
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