SE Asia Stocks-Rise after Fed move; Indonesia up before BI rate decision
BANGKOK, March 17 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets rose on Thursday in line with Asia and a gain in regional currencies after the U.S. Federal Reserve reduced the number of interest rate hikes expected this year. Jakarta composite index extended gains for a second day to a near 8-month high. Banking shares such as Bank Rakyat Indonesia posted modest gains as investors awaited the outcome of Indonesia's central bank meeting later in the day. A slim majority in a Reuters poll expects Indonesia's central bank, under pressure from the government to help lift economic growth, to cut its benchmark interest rate again. The Fed's decision to hold interest rates steady on Wednesday and gave more dovish guidance on interest rate direction appeared to be positive for risk asset investment and fund flows to the region. The Philippines was an outperformer, with key Philippine composite index up 1.8 percent. Top gainers of the index were Robinson Land Corp which jumped 5.1 percent and Globe Telecom which gained 4.6 percent. Philippine central bank said it saw no pressing need to change its monetary settings. In Bangkok, the key SET index was up 0.4 percent at 1,383.32 at midday. Index heavyweight energy stock PTT advanced 2.6 percent and PTT Exploration and Production rose 1.7 percent as oil extended gains. Strategists of Maybank Kim Eng Securities in a report pegged resistance for the SET index at 1,390. "We do not expect a huge inflow in this near term as the valuation of big-cap stocks is now stretched," they wrote. Singapore was up 1 percent at its highest since Jan. 4 after the city-state said its exports unexpectedly rose in February. Malaysia hit a near 2-week high and Vietnam touched a near 3-month high For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS Change at 0559 GMT Market Current previous close Pct Move Singapore 2872.73 2844.21 1.00 Bangkok 1383.32 1377.8 0.40 Manila 7195.61 7065.39 1.84 Jakarta 4876.895 4861.441 0.32 Kuala Lumpur 1704.51 1693.43 0.65 Ho Chi Minh 582.43 577.07 0.93 (Reporting by Viparat Jantraprap; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)
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