SE Asia Stocks-Bearish on U.S. rate rise concerns, falling oil
By Rushil Dutta May 24 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian indexes closed flat to lower on Tuesday as investors turned bearish after U.S policymakers flagged the possibility of a rate increase as early as June, while falling global oil prices also dampened sentiment. San Francisco Fed President John Williams on Monday forecast two or more rate hikes this year, adding the Fed would analyse another month's economic data before reaching a conclusion in its June meeting. Separately, St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard said U.S. interest rates being kept too low for too long could cause financial instability in future and stronger market expectations for a rate rise are "probably good". "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 closed lower, dragged down by oil and gas stocks, and financials. Offshore engineering firm Sembcorp Marine closed 2.2 percent lower, while oil-rig firm Keppel Corp finished down 1.3 percent. Oil fell for a fifth consecutive day on Tuesday on rising production from major exporters, and as the dollar strengthened as investors continued to factor in the chances of a near-term U.S. interest rate rise. Indonesian stocks fell for the first time in three sessions, weighed down by energy stocks. Petroleum distributor AKR Corporindo Tbk PT lost 2.4 percent. Thailand closed up 0.2 percent, recovering from losses earlier in the day, pushed higher by finiancials and telecom services. Malaysia fell, dragged down by financials and consumer cyclicals. Malayan Banking Bhd lost 1.9 percent, while CIMB Group slipped 1.4 percent. Philippine shares however closed higher as financial stocks gained. BDO Unibank finished up 0.5 percent. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.7 percent. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS STOCK MARKETS Change on day Market Current previous Pct Move close Singapore 2752.39 2766.93 -0.53 Bangkok 1384.26 1381.69 0.19 Manila 7356.72 7306.69 0.68 Jakarta 4710.785 4743.662 -0.69 Kuala Lumpur 1625.84 1634.89 -0.55 Ho Chi Minh 611.62 611.03 0.10 Change on year Market Current End prev Pct Move yr Singapore 2752.39 2882.73 -4.52 Bangkok 1384.26 1288.02 7.47 Manila 7356.72 6952.08 5.82 Jakarta 4710.785 4593.008 2.56 Kuala Lumpur 1625.84 1692.51 -3.94 Ho Chi Minh 611.62 579.03 5.63 (Reporting by Rushil Dutta; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)
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