SE Asia Stocks-Wary before Fed Chair Yellen's speech; Vietnam up
By Krishna V Kurup Aug 26 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets trod cautiously on Friday as investors waited for signals on the future trajectory of U.S. interest rates from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen in her speech later in the day. Recent strong readings on the U.S. labor market, and signs that inflation was finally beginning to pick up, are encouraging some policymakers to believe that rates should be raised, 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. Several policymakers have said raising interest rates gradually would allow them to stimulate the economy for longer, but that an overheating economy could end in a recession. Singapore shares fell 0.7 percent, snapping three sessions of gains, with telecoms such as StarHub Ltd dragging the index down. For the week, they posted a gain of 0.5 percent. Singapore's industrial production in July shrank from a year earlier, with manufacturing output falling 3.6 percent, data from the Singapore Economic Development Board showed. The median forecast in a Reuters survey was a rise of 0.9 percent. Philippine shares closed marginally lower, posting their fourth straight session of losses, led by telecoms including Globe Telecom Inc. They declined 1.1 percent this week, their third straight weekly loss. Investors took a cautious stance ahead of 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." Vietnam shares ended 1.4 percent higher with index heavyweight Vietcombank gaining 6.5 percent after the company said it would pay a 10 percent cash dividend and 35 percent share dividend to shareholders. They added 0.8 percent for the week, their third straight weekly gain. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS STOCK MARKETS Change on day Market Current Prev close Pct Move Singapore 2857.65 2876.93 -0.67 Bangkok 1549.41 1544.1 0.34 Manila 7845.49 7854.54 -0.12 Jakarta 5438.831 5454.116 -0.28 Kuala Lumpur 1683.09 1680.3 0.17 Ho Chi Minh 667.75 658.5 1.40 Change on year Market Current End 2015 Pct Move Singapore 2857.65 2882.73 -0.87 Bangkok 1549.41 1288.02 20.29 Manila 7845.49 6952.08 12.85 Jakarta 5438.831 4593.008 18.42 Kuala Lumpur 1683.09 1692.51 -0.56 Ho Chi Minh 667.75 579.03 15.32 (Reporting by Krishna V Kurup in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)
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