SE Asia Stocks-Fall on U.S. rate rise concerns
By Bhumika Sahani May 19 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stocks fell on Thursday, in line with Asian markets, as the likelihood of a U.S. rate increase in June lifted the dollar to a near two-month high and left bonds, stocks, commodities and emerging markets all nursing losses. Minutes from the Federal Reserve's last meeting took the market off guard after they revealed most policymakers thought a June rise would be appropriate if the U.S. economy continued its recent improvement. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell more than 1 percent to its lowest since March 9. "In general, a rate hike in June could be seen as a positive, as it suggests that the US economy is doing a lot better," said Carey Wong of Singapore-based OCBC Investment Research. "But market remains divided if other central banks will follow in the Fed's footstep, and that could create some uncertainty and increased volatility." Philippines fell nearly 1.5 percent, its first loss in five sessions, shrugging off strong quarterly GDP growth data released earlier in the day. Financial stocks took a hit, with heavyweights Bank of the Philippine Islands and Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co closing 1.1 percent and 3.2 percent lower, respectively. Singapore's Straits Times index fell 1.3 percent. Financial stocks, the biggest constituent of the index, fell 1 percent, dragged down by United Overseas Bank Ltd and DBS Group Holdings Ltd. Indonesia hit a near three-month closing low, led down by telecom and utilities, while Thailand fell 1 percent to a one-week closing low. For Asian Companies click ; STOCK MARKETS Change on day Market Current Previous Pct Move Close Singapore 2740.11 2777.11 -1.33 Bangkok 1385.86 1400.5 -1.05 Manila 7427.33 7534.3 -1.42 Jakarta 4704.217 4734.357 -0.64 Kuala Lumpur 1633.76 1635.72 -0.12 Ho Chi Minh 619.2 622.45 -0.52 Change on year Market Current End 2015 Pct Move Singapore 2740.11 2882.73 -4.95 Bangkok 1385.86 1288.02 7.60 Manila 7427.33 6952.08 6.84 Jakarta 4704.217 4593.008 2.42 Kuala Lumpur 1633.76 1692.51 -3.47 Ho Chi Minh 619.2 579.03 6.94 (Reporting by Bhumika Sahani; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath)
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