SE Asia Stocks-Sluggish; Thailand hits 1-wk low
By Justin George Varghese Aug 16 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets were sluggish on Tuesday, with Thailand shedding nearly 1 percent to a one-week low, amid expectations of an extended phase of monetary easing after downbeat economic data from major economies. Most countries are easing their monetary policies, with Britain, Australia and New Zealand cutting rates in recent weeks and Japan stepping up purchases of exchange-traded funds. The expected easing posture of central banks globally suggests the Fed may be slower to raise short-term interest rates and that could be reflected in the minutes, analysts said. "We recommend taking profit on outperforming trades when sentiment levels have moderated or Fed pricing has normalised," Nomura strategist Mixo Das said in a note. Investor sentiment got a boost as oil prices remained near five-week highs on Tuesday, gaining 16 percent in a rally since early August as speculation intensified over potential producer action to support prices amid a glut. Thailand's SET index fell for a second day in row, dragged down by financial stocks such as Siam Commercial Bank Pcl and Kasikornbank Pcl. A rapid rise in the baht could impede business and the economy and the central bank will closely monitor the currency, an assistant central bank governor said. Malaysian shares rose for a fifth straight session, led by telecom services and industrials, while Philippine stocks extended gains into a second straight day, with consumer cyclicals driving the rise. Indonesian shares closed nearly 1 percent higher, driven by consumer staples, with PT Unilever Indonesia Tbk and PT Charoen Pokphand Indonesia Tbk among the biggest gainers. Automobile sales in Indonesia rose 12.5 percent in July from a year earlier, according to data released by industry association Gaikindo. Indonesia's financial markets will be closed on Wednesday for a public holiday. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS STOCK MARKETS Change on the day Market Current Prev. close Pct Move Singapore 2858.8 2867.21 -0.29 Bangkok 1536.35 1549.11 -0.82 Manila 7983.38 7960.17 0.29 Jakarta 5371.846 5320.561 0.96 Kuala Lumpur 1699.89 1690.33 0.57 Ho Chi Minh 658.11 659.47 -0.21 Change this year Market Current End prev yr Pct Move Singapore 2858.8 2882.73 -0.83 Bangkok 1536.35 1288.02 19.28 Manila 7983.38 6952.08 14.83 Jakarta 5371.846 4593.008 16.96 Kuala Lumpur 1699.89 1692.51 0.44 Ho Chi Minh 658.11 579.03 13.66 (Reporting by Justin George Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)
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