SE Asia Stocks-Fed rate hike bets weigh on sentiment
By Krishna V Kurup Aug 22 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stocks remained sluggish on Monday, in line with broader Asian markets, on expectations that a signal might emerge from a U.S. Federal Reserve gathering this week in Wyoming that the central bank is gearing up to raise interest rates. Global central bankers will join the annual mountain retreat that opens on Thursday, with Fed Chair Janet Yellen due to speak the following day. Sentiment also got hit after Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer on Sunday gave a generally upbeat assessment of the U.S. economy's current strength, saying that the central bank was close to hitting its job and inflation targets. New York Fed President William Dudley said last week a rate hike would be possible at the Fed's next policy meeting in September, though interest rate futures contracts indicate that market is pricing in about 50/50 odds of an increase in December. Markets are reacting to Fed official's comments "pointing to a possible rate hike towards the end of the year" which "has sparked apprehensions on the regional equities," said Manny Cruz, an analyst with Asiasec Equities in Manila. Philippine shares rose marginally, helped by financials and telecoms. SM Prime Holdings Inc rose 0.5 percent, while PLDT Inc gained nearly 1 percent. The Philippine market is moving sideways in the absence of fresh developments, Cruz added. Thai shares edged up, with energy and industrial stocks leading the gains. PTT Pcl rose 0.9 percent, while Siam Cement Pcl gained 0.4 percent. Vietnam shares fell marginally, dragged down by consumer non-cyclicals. Vietnam Dairy Products JSC was down 1.4 percent. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.7 percent at 0425 GMT after losing 0.3 percent last week. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS STOCK MARKETS Change at 0425 GMT Market Current Prev close Pct Move Singapore 2840.52 2844.02 -0.12 Bangkok 1540.38 1538.76 0.11 Manila 7941.48 7930.75 0.14 Jakarta 5422.106 5416.035 0.11 Kuala Lumpur 1688.71 1687.68 0.06 Ho Chi Minh 661.85 662.28 -0.06 Change on year Market Current End 2015 Pct Move Singapore 2840.52 2882.73 -1.46 Bangkok 1540.38 1288.02 19.59 Manila 7941.48 6952.08 14.23 Jakarta 5422.106 4593.008 18.05 Kuala Lumpur 1688.71 1692.51 -0.22 Ho Chi Minh 661.85 579.03 14.30 (Reporting by Krishna V Kurup in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)
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