SE Asia Stocks-Most gain; Philippines near 5-month high
BANGKOK, March 18 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets rose on Friday, with Indonesia posting modest gains after its central bank eased policy as expected while the Philippines hit a near-five-month high. Jakarta's composite index was slightly up after rallying at one point to its highest since July 23 and on track for a gain for more than 1 percent on the week. Indonesia's central bank cut its benchmark rate by 25 basis points to 6.75 percent and reduced two other rates by the same amount. The announcement came after market close on Thursday. The Philippine index climbed 1.3 percent to its highest since Oct. 28, heading for a weekly rise of nearly 3 percent. Foreign investors were net buyers of shares in nearly every session this month, stock exchange data showed. Thai stocks eked out slim gains, and were poised for a weekly drop of about 1 percent, its first loss in five weeks, amid foreign-led selling over the past three days. Investors took profits, partly as they awaited the Thai central bank meeting next week. "The SET's upside looks limited as other domestic sectors may be stalled by uncertainties on the Thai MPC interest rate decision on March 23 and the looming deadline on telecom's 900 MHz payment on March 21," broker KGI Securities said in a report. Stocks in Malaysia and Singapore were modestly higher while Vietnam retreated after two days of gains. Investors appeared to take profits ahead of a holiday-shortened week in the region next week. The Philippine stock market will be closed for a public holiday on Thursday and Friday. Singapore and Indonesia will be closed on Friday. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS Change at 0647 GMT Market Current previous close Pct Move Singapore 2897.07 2880.17 0.59 Bangkok 1382.03 1380.2 0.13 Manila 7305.58 7210.9 1.31 Jakarta 4887.748 4885.688 0.04 Kuala Lumpur 1710.28 1703.19 0.42 Ho Chi Minh 576.06 579.26 -0.55 (Reporting by Viparat Jantraprap; Editing by Sunil Nair)
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