SE Asia Stocks-Wary ahead of Yellen speech; Vietnam up 1 pct
By Krishna V Kurup Aug 26 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets traded cautiously on Friday, as investors waited for clues on the timing of a possible U.S. rate increase in a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen to central bankers later in the day. Already, top Fed officials have defended their view that the U.S. central bank should probably raise interest rates soon, saying they still intended to keep the economy running fast enough to boost employment and inflation. Recent strong readings on the U.S. labor market, and signs that inflation was finally beginning to pick up, is encouraging some policymakers to believe that rates should be hiked, if not as soon as September's policy meeting then at least before the end of the year. Traders currently put chances of a December rate hike at about 42 percent. Vietnam shares were up as much as 1.4 percent after index heavyweight Vietcombank gained as much as 6.5 percent to its highest since July 14 after it said it would pay a 10 pct cash dividend and 35 pct share dividend to shareholders. The index has gained 13.7 percent this year as of Thursday's close. Philippine shares fell 0.6 percent, with telecom stocks leading the losers. PLDT Inc lost nearly 1 percent, and Globe Telecom Inc was down 2.1 percent. Investors continue to take a cautious stance ahead of Janet Yellen's speech, looking for indications of a rate hike, SB Equities said in a note, adding that "trading participants have increased chatter on a potential surprise in tonight's speech." Thai shares were up 0.6 percent, led by technology and basic materials, while Singapore and Indonesia were down marginally. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS STOCK MARKETS Change at 0455 GMT Market Current Prev close Pct Move Singapore 2868.52 2876.93 -0.29 Bangkok 1553.58 1544.1 0.61 Manila 7804.35 7854.54 -0.64 Jakarta 5435.869 5454.116 -0.33 Kuala Lumpur 1681.91 1680.3 0.10 Ho Chi Minh 666.33 658.5 1.19 Change on year Market Current End 2015 Pct Move Singapore 2868.52 2882.73 -0.49 Bangkok 1553.58 1288.02 20.62 Manila 7804.35 6952.08 12.26 Jakarta 5435.869 4593.008 18.35 Kuala Lumpur 1681.91 1692.51 -0.63 Ho Chi Minh 666.33 579.03 15.08 (Reporting by Krishna V Kurup in Bengaluru; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath)
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