SE Asia Stocks-Soft as investors eye U.S. payrolls data
By Aparajita Saxena Sept 2 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stocks were sluggish on Friday, tracking subdued U.S. markets overnight, as investors were cautious ahead of a crucial report on how many new jobs the United States may have added last month, a pointer to how soon the Fed would raise rates. While U.S. manufacturing remains constrained by the lingering effects of a strong dollar and lower oil prices, sustained labor market strength could push the Federal Reserve closer to raising interest rates later this year. There is a 36 percent chance that the rate hike would happen in September, but the fact is that the Fed usually doesn't like to raise rates before the November presidential election, so it may happen in December, said Grace Aller, head of research at AP Securities in Manila. "Stocks will continue to be muted...Investors will not move a lot before the jobs data today," she said. "The movement of the U.S. markets tonight will dictate the movement in the (Asian) markets next week." Singapore shares slid 0.3 percent, their lowest in two months. Telecom stocks fell the most after Australia's TPG Telecom and two local firms submitted expressions of interest to the Singapore telecommunications regulator in an auction of radio airwaves later this year that is aimed at establishing a fourth mobile operator. Singapore Telecommunications Ltd, the biggest telecom services provider in Southeast Asia, fell 2.52 percent. StarHub Ltd and M1 Ltd lost 4.41 percent and 5.6 percent, respectively. Thai shares fell nearly 1 percent to their lowest in one week, led by losses in energy and healthcare stocks. The country's largest hospital operator, Bangkok Dusit Medical Services PCL lost about 1.7 percent, after it cut full-year revenue growth target to 8-10 percent from 11-12 percent due to lower-than-expected growth in the first half. Philippines rose 0.5 percent, while Malaysia was flat. Vietnam was closed for the National Day holiday. Asian shares marked time before the U.S. report, with MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan barely changed for the day. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS STOCK MARKETS Change at 0419 GMT Market Current Previous Close Pct Move Singapore 2806.06 2816.47 -0.37 Bangkok 1525.86 1539.71 -0.90 Manila 7813.96 7773.31 0.52 Jakarta 5347.835 5334.547 0.25 Kuala Lumpur 1671.37 1670.55 0.05 Change this year Market Current End 2015 Pct Move Singapore 2806.06 2882.73 -2.66 Bangkok 1525.86 1288.02 18.47 Manila 7813.96 6952.08 12.40 Jakarta 5347.835 4593.008 16.43 Kuala Lumpur 1671.37 1692.51 -1.25 (Reporting by Aparajita Saxena in Bengaluru; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath)
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