SE Asia Stocks-Sluggish on worries over China slowdown, Fed rate rise
By Aparajita Saxena May 26 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stocks were largely sluggish on Thursday as worries over an imminent rate increase by the U.S. Fed and signs of a slowdown in China hit sentiment, but higher oil prices boosted energy shares across the board. Chinese stocks fell to 2-1/2 month lows before closing slightly higher on growing worries that the economy was losing steam. Data on Wednesday showed profits at China's state-owned firms fell 8.4 percent year-on-year in the first four months of 2016, while total debts of state-owned companies increased 18 percent. Separately, Moody's ratings agency raised concerns over China's growing debt overhang. "The markets are sluggish on uncertainties over the two biggest economies of the world. There are still worries over the Fed raising rates sooner-than-expected, while concerns over the Chinese economy continue keeping the markets choppy," said Lee Chung Cheng, director of research at JF Apex Securities Bhd in Malaysia. Comments from Fed officials have hinted at an imminent rate increase, with Dallas Fed chief Robert Kaplan saying on Wednesday that Britain's June 23 vote on its European Union membership would weigh on any decision at the Fed's June meeting. Philippines closed more than 1 percent lower, dragged down by industrials. Conglomerate JG Summit Holdings Inc fell 9.65 percent. "While JG Summit's private placement may have triggered some selling pressure, the decline in Philippines is merely a healthy market correction," Manny Cruz, an analyst at Manila-based Asiasec Equity Inc, said. Vietnam lost 1.2 percent, its worst percentage loss in five weeks. Stocks in Singapore however closed marginally higher, helped by rising oil prices that have climbed above $50 a barrel and factory data showing industrial output grew at its fastest pace in two years. Keppel Corp, Sembcorp Marine and Sembcorp Industries were among the top percentage gainers on the index, while Singapore Telecommunications Ltd rose 1 percent. Malaysia was flat, while Indonesia and Thailand rose slightly at the close of trade. Earlier, Asian shares struggled to gain traction, with Japanese stocks flat in thin, choppy trade and MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan up 0.2 percent. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS STOCK MARKETS Change on day Market Current previous Pct Move close Singapore 2773.31 2766.66 0.24 Bangkok 1401.64 1397.63 0.29 Manila 7376.38 7463.95 -1.17 Jakarta 4784.565 4772.977 0.24 Kuala Lumpur 1631.09 1630.96 0.01 Ho Chi Minh 604.34 611.89 -1.23 Change on year Market Current End 2015 Pct Move Singapore 2773.31 2882.73 -3.80 Bangkok 1401.64 1288.02 8.82 Manila 7376.38 6952.08 6.10 Jakarta 4784.565 4593.008 4.17 Kuala Lumpur 1631.09 1692.51 -3.63 Ho Chi Minh 604.34 579.03 4.37 (Reporting by Aparajita Saxena; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath)
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