SE Asia Stocks-Cautious ahead of US GDP data, Yellen speech
May 23 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stocks were largely flat to higher as investors turned cautious ahead of preliminary U.S. GDP data and speeches by Fed policymakers this week that will likely give cues on a possible rate increase by the U.S. Fed in June. Investors will listen closely to a slew of U.S. Federal Reserve policymakers this week, including Fed Chair Janet Yellen who appears at a panel event hosted by Harvard University on Friday, to gauge how soon they will raise interest rates. The key precondition for a rate hike that U.S. policy-setters outlined in April was signs of economic growth picking up in the second quarter and of employment and inflation firming up, minutes from the FOMC meeting showed last week. With no second-quarter GDP data due until the end of July, investors are likely to focus on the second estimate of U.S. first-quarter growth due out on Friday. "This week, global investors would wait for preliminary US GDP data and Janet Yellen speech on Friday," Jakarta-based brokerage firm Reliance Securities said. Indonesian stocks closed higher, driven by financials, which gained nearly 1 percent. Bank Mandiri, Indonesia's biggest bank by assets, closed 1.7 percent higher. The Philippine index snapped two sessions of losses to end marginally higher after rising as much as 0.7 percent intraday. The rally was led by financials with BDO Unibank Inc finishing 0.5 percent higher. The index lost 1.9 percent last week. "Volatility remains a concern...so expect sharp intraday movements this week," Philippine brokerage firm Regina Capital said in a note. Thai stocks, dragged down by telecom shares, closed 0.3 percent lower. The Thai market was closed on Friday for a public holiday. GSM mobile phone operator Advanced Info Service PCL lost 3.2 percent. Asian shares mostly rose earlier, with MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan up 0.3 percent, clawing back after last week's 0.5 percent loss. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS STOCK MARKETS Change on the day Market Current Previous Pct Move Close Singapore 2766.93 2763.82 0.11 Bangkok 1381.69 1385.86 -0.30 Manila 7306.69 7299.03 0.10 Jakarta 4743.662 4711.878 0.67 Kuala Lumpur 1634.89 1628.79 0.37 Ho Chi Minh 611.03 614.81 -0.61 Change on year Market Current End prev Pct Move yr Singapore 2766.93 2882.73 -4.02 Bangkok 1381.69 1288.02 7.23 Manila 7306.69 6952.08 5.10 Jakarta 4743.662 4593.008 3.28 Kuala Lumpur 1634.89 1692.51 -3.40 Ho Chi Minh 611.03 579.03 5.53 (Reporting by Rushil Dutta; Additonal reporting by Fransiska Nangoy in Jakarta; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath)
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