SE Asia Stocks-Bearish as worries linger over Fed rate rise
By Rushil Dutta May 24 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stocks traded lower in cautious trade on Tuesday, in line with broader Asia as the possibility of an U.S. rate rise loomed large. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell as much as 0.6 percent, hovering near its two-and-a-half-month low hit on May 19. Investors will listen closely to a slew of U.S. Fed policymakers this week, including Fed Chair Janet Yellen at a panel event hosted by Harvard University on Friday, to gauge how soon they will raise interest rates. The Fed will likely tighten policy a bit quicker in 2017 than this year, by perhaps one or two more interest rate hikes, a top Fed official said on Monday, noting the decision whether to hike in mid-June will hinge on economic data before then. Investors are also likely to focus on the second estimate of U.S. first-quarter growth due out on Friday and data on new home sales, durable goods orders and consumer sentiment due this week. "Concerns over the rate hike in June are causing weakness in the Asian markets. We, therefore, expect bearish markets until then," a trader from Singapore said. "However, if the rate hike is pushed to the end of the year, we might see some pick-up in trading activities." Singapore's Straits Times Index was down after two sessions of gains, led by financials. Property developers also took a beating, with Global Logistic Properties and City Developments Ltd among the biggest losers. Indonesian stocks were headed for their first fall in three sessions, weighed down by financials and energy stocks. Bank Central Asia Tbk PT lost 0.76 percent, while Bank Rakyat Indonesia (Persero) Tbk PT fell 0.5 percent. Daewoo Securities Indonesia's head of research, Taye Shim, said he believes investors are taking a "wait-and-see approach". Thailand was on track for its fourth consecutive session of losses, while Malaysia was dragged down by financials and consumer cyclicals. Bucking the trend, Philippine shares rose with financial stock BDO Unibank rising 0.5 percent. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS STOCK MARKETS Change at 0503 GMT Market Current Previous Pct Move Close Singapore 2754.37 2766.93 -0.45 Bangkok 1379.81 1381.69 -0.14 Manila 7358.43 7306.69 0.71 Jakarta 4729.684 4743.662 -0.29 Kuala Lumpur 1630.46 1634.89 -0.27 Ho Chi Minh 610.87 611.03 -0.03 Change on year Market Current End 2015 Pct Move Singapore 2754.82 2882.73 -4.44 Bangkok 1378.78 1288.02 7.05 Manila 7358.43 6952.08 5.85 Jakarta 4729.684 4593.008 2.98 Kuala Lumpur 1630.46 1692.51 -3.67 Ho Chi Minh 610.87 579.03 5.50 (Reporting by Rushil Dutta; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)
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