SE Asia Stocks-Risk appetite eases after Fed rate talks
By Anusha Ravindranath Aug 17 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets traded slightly lower to flat on Wednesday, as risk appetite eased after comments from U.S. Federal Reserve officials fuelled speculations of a rate hike this year. New York Fed Reserve Bank President William Dudley said a rate hike in September was possible, while Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart said the U.S. economy is likely strong enough for at least one rate increase before the end of 2016, with two a possibility. Comments from Dudley, a permanent voter on policy and a close ally of Fed Chair Janet Yellen, also included an unusual warning on low bond yields and were seen as more hawkish than a cautious message last month. Yet, investors were sceptical about the Fed's willingness to tighten policy as it had ended up keeping rates on hold earlier in June, even after their officials talked up the possibility of rate hikes in preceding weeks. Investors seem to be in a wait-and-watch mode right now, said Charles Ang of COL Financial in the Philippines. "People are also in a way concerned about how potential rate hikes could affect the global liquidity given some of the uncertainties that we still have, particularly in Europe and China," he said. For regional markets such as the Philippines valuation seems to be on the higher side, he said, adding stocks were no longer cheap. Broader sentiment also took a hit as oil prices pulled away from 5-week highs in early trade on Wednesday, as analysts doubted possible producer talks to restrain oversupply would be successful. Singapore shares hit a more than one-week low and were headed for their fifth straight session of losses, with Keppel Corp and Singapore Telecommunications among the top percentage losers. Philippine shares fell marginally, weighed down by energy stocks, while Malaysia drifted lower as bluechips such as British American Tobacco Malaysia Bhd shed gains. Bucking the trend, Vietnam shares edged up. Indonesian markets were closed for a public holiday. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS STOCK MARKETS Change on 0449 GMT Market Current previous Pct Move close Singapore 2851.5 2858.8 -0.26 Bangkok 1537.3 1537.52 -0.01 Manila 7973.25 7983.38 -0.13 Kuala Lumpur 1694.63 1699.89 -0.31 Ho Chi Minh 658.88 658.11 0.12 Change so far this year Market Current End prev yr Pct Move Singapore 2851.5 2882.73 -1.08 Bangkok 1537.3 1288.02 19.35 Manila 7973.25 6952.08 14.69 Kuala Lumpur 1694.63 1692.51 0.13 Ho Chi Minh 658.88 579.03 13.79 (Reporting by Anusha Ravindranath in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)
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