SE Asia Stocks-Sluggish as investors await Fed rate hike signal
By Krishna V Kurup Aug 23 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets fell on Tuesday ahead of a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on Friday that could give some clues on the timing of a U.S. interest rate hike. Also, weighing on sentiment was declining oil prices, with Goldman Sachs warning that August's price rally had been overdone and that a proposed oil production freeze at current near-record levels would not help rein in an oversupplied market. Indonesian stocks fell nearly 1 percent, dragged down by technology and consumer cyclical stocks. Indoritel Makmur Internasional Tbk PT lost 2.8 percent, while Astra International Tbk PT dropped 3 percent. The JCI (Jakarta Composite Index) is expected to move lower in Tuesday's trading, Reliance Securities said, adding volatility was expected to remain high until the end of this week as investors awaited Yellen's speech. Yellen's address is in focus with no major U.S. economic data due until Friday's second reading of gross domestic product for the second quarter. Amid conflicting signals from the Fed in recent days, global central bankers will gather from Aug. 25 for an annual meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. A recent batch of strong U.S. employment readings have yielded upbeat views from some Fed policymakers suggesting rates could rise as soon as September, though mixed messages from the bank's latest meeting have clouded the outlook. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.4 percent at 0450 GMT. Philippine shares fell 0.7 percent, with telecoms and consumer non-cyclicals leading the losses. PLDT Inc lost 1.5 percent, while JG Summit Holdings Inc declined 1 percent. The market is down from a mixture of profit-taking from Monday's short gain and the "risk-off mood" ahead of Yellen's speech, said Victor Felix, an analyst with Manila-based AB Capital Securities. If the speech is "dovish in tone", the market will spike next week, he added. Singapore shares fell marginally, with consumer goods and services leading the losses. Singapore's headline consumer price index in July fell on a year-on-year basis, weighed down by declines in housing and transportation costs, data showed. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS STOCK MARKETS Change at 0450 GMT Market Current Prev close Pct Move Singapore 2840.01 2841.19 -0.04 Bangkok 1533.33 1539.24 -0.38 Manila 7922.03 7981.21 -0.74 Jakarta 5376.24 5427.175 -0.94 Kuala Lumpur 1688 1691.07 -0.18 Ho Chi Minh 657.62 657.68 -0.01 Change on year Market Current End 2015 Pct Move Singapore 2840.01 2882.73 -1.48 Bangkok 1533.33 1288.02 19.05 Manila 7922.03 6952.08 13.95 Jakarta 5376.24 4593.008 17.05 Kuala Lumpur 1688 1692.51 -0.27 Ho Chi Minh 657.62 579.03 13.57 (Reporting by Krishna V Kurup in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Fransiska Nangoy in Jakarta; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)
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