SE Asia Stocks-Rise after Fed minutes; Indonesia posts 16-mth closing high
By Justin George Varghese Aug 18 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets closed higher on Thursday, in line with Asian peers, as risk-taking appetite returned after minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve's July policy meeting indicated a rate hike is still some way off. Fed policymakers agree that more economic data is needed before raising rates, although some see a need to tighten policy soon, the minutes showed. "Although uncertainty prevails among investors with regard to the timing of the next rate hike, the likelihood of it being in September has significantly reduced," said Samantha Wee, a trader with CLSA Singapore Pte Ltd. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose as much as 0.76 percent in its biggest rise since Aug. 8. Indonesian shares rose 1.7 percent and posted their highest close since April 2015, with consumer stocks accounting for more than half of the rise. PT Hanjaya Mandala Sampoerna Tbk and PT Astra International Tbk were among the top percentage gainers. Thai shares jumped 1 percent and posted their first gain in four sessions, driven by industrials. Philippine shares eked out small gains after data showed second-quarter annual economic growth picked up to 7.0 percent from 6.8 percent in January-March. The Philippine central bank said it does not expect increased spending by the government to push inflation higher significantly, and saw no need for monetary policy adjustments. LT Group Inc and Universal Robina Corp were the top performers. Malaysian shares closed marginally higher, while Singapore posted its sixth straight session of losses, dragged down by consumer goods stocks. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS STOCK MARKETS Change on 0930 GMT Market Current Prev. close Pct Move Singapore 2836.98 2843.35 -0.22 Bangkok 1547.01 1531.63 1.00 Manila 7952.81 7946.19 0.08 Jakarta 5461.45 5371.846 1.67 Kuala Lumpur 1694.87 1694.32 0.03 Ho Chi Minh 660.65 660.51 0.02 Change this year Market Current End prev yr Pct Move Singapore 2836.98 2882.73 -1.59 Bangkok 1547.01 1288.02 20.11 Manila 7952.81 6952.08 14.39 Jakarta 5461.45 4593.008 18.91 Kuala Lumpur 1694.87 1692.51 0.14 Ho Chi Minh 660.65 579.03 14.10 (Reporting by Justin George Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)
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