SE Asia Stocks-Cautious ahead of Yellen speech
By Krishna V Kurup Aug 24 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets trod cautiously on Wednesday as strong U.S. housing data released overnight increased the chances of an interest rate hike in the coming months, while oil prices slipped after a surprise jump in U.S. inventories. The focus remained on the global central bankers who will meet in the U.S. mountain resort of Jackson Hole later this week, where Fed Chair Janet Yellen will give a speech on Friday. Markets are pricing in around a 21 percent chance of a hike in September, but a 50 percent chance of at least one hike by the end of the year, according to CME FedWatch. Global benchmark Brent crude futures were down 74 cents at $49.22 a barrel at 0809 GMT, after touching an intraday low of $49.07. Nothing "emphatic" is happening in the market, said Vishnu Varathan, a senior economist with Mizuho Bank. There is a bit of mixed trading happening in the region as some of them are following the U.S. cues reinforced by Tokyo's rise, he said, adding that Yellen's comment was expected to be dovish. Philippine shares closed down 0.9 percent, with consumer non-cyclicals leading the losses. Earlier in the day, the index fell as much as 1.3 percent to its lowest in over 6 weeks. The market is going to trade sideways for the rest of the week on expectation that Yellen's speech could give clues about whether there would be an interest rate hike in September, said Grace Aller, an analyst with AP Securities in Manila. JG Summit Holdings Inc lost 3.8 percent and Universal Robina Corp fell 2.6 percent. Singapore shares ended 0.7 percent higher and posted their biggest single-day gain in 2 weeks. Financial stocks led the gains, with DBS Group Holdings Ltd rising 1.4 percent and United Overseas Bank Ltd adding 1.1 percent. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.4 percent as of 0950 GMT. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS STOCK MARKETS Change on day Market Current Prev close Pct Move Singapore 2869.57 2850.43 0.67 Bangkok 1547.55 1540.06 0.49 Manila 7866.13 7935.18 -0.87 Jakarta 5403.992 5417.14 -0.24 Kuala Lumpur 1682.06 1683.07 -0.06 Ho Chi Minh 660.77 659.16 0.24 Change on year Market Current End 2015 Pct Move Singapore 2869.57 2882.73 -0.46 Bangkok 1547.55 1288.02 20.15 Manila 7866.13 6952.08 13.15 Jakarta 5403.992 4593.008 17.66 Kuala Lumpur 1682.06 1692.51 -0.62 Ho Chi Minh 660.77 579.03 14.12 (Reporting by Krishna V Kurup in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)
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