SE Asia Stocks-Thai, Philippine shares rise after cenbank holds rates
BANGKOK, March 23 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets ended mixed on Wednesday, with the Thai benchmark hitting a more than 4-month high and the key Philippine stock index rebounding after central banks in both countries kept interest rates steady as expected. The Thai SET index was up 1.1 percent at 1,412.16, the highest close since Nov. 6. Late buying boosted shares of large cap banks and telecoms such as Bangkok Bank and Advanced Info Service. The market saw buying interest after the Bank of Thailand held its key interest rate at 1.50 percent as expected and cut its 2016 growth forecast. "The downbeat economic forecast was not a surprise. Today, buying was more to do with a follow-through buying after the SET index breached a key 1,400 level," said Pichai Lertsupongkij, first vice president of privilege clients advisory at Thanachart Securities. The Philippines' key index closed the day up 0.3 percent, notching up a modest 0.7 percent gain in a shortened trading week. The Philippine stock market will be closed on Thursday and Friday for a public holiday. The Philippine central bank on Wednesday kept its benchmark interest rate steady at 4.0 percent as expected amid robust economic growth and subdued inflation. Stocks in Singapore ended slightly up, with data showing the city-state's core inflation gauge rising 0.5 percent in February from a year earlier, the fastest pace in five months, on the back of higher food prices. Malaysia was also little changed, with the release of February consumer price inflation data postponed to Friday. A Reuters poll has forecast Malaysia's annual inflation rate likely increased to 4.0 percent in February due to high transport costs and a low base from a year earlier. Indonesia hit the lowest close since March 15 while Vietnam rose for the first time in four days. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS Change on the day Market Current previous close Pct Move Singapore 2881.98 2880.65 0.05 Bangkok 1412.16 1397.2 1.07 Manila 7360.05 7342.03 0.25 Jakarta 4854.176 4856.107 -0.04 Kuala Lumpur 1724.55 1724.75 -0.01 Ho Chi Minh 574.71 570.91 0.67 Change so far this year Market Current End prev yr Pct Move Singapore 2881.98 2882.73 -0.03 Bangkok 1412.16 1288.02 9.64 Manila 7360.05 6952.08 5.87 Jakarta 4854.176 4593.008 5.69 Kuala Lumpur 1724.55 1692.51 1.89 Ho Chi Minh 574.71 579.03 -0.75 (Reporting by Viparat Jantraprap; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath)
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