SE Asia Stocks-Rangebound ahead of U.S. jobs report; Indonesia lags on valuation
BANGKOK, April 4 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets were rangebound on Friday ahead of the U.S. jobs report, with Indonesian shares sliding as investors cashed in on rallying banking shares, while the Philippines weakened after a lower-than-expected inflation. After a rally this week that sent Jakarta's Composite Index to a near 10-month high on Thursday, investors remained on the sidelines due to high valuations. The benchmark was down almost 1 percent by midday, trimming its gain so far on the week to 1.7 percent. Banking shares that have outperformed the market such as Bank Mandiri and Bank Rakyat Indonesia led among losers. The Indonesian market, having risen 14 percent year to date in absolute terms, is no longer cheap given a 2014 forecast price to earnings of 18.3 times, said Jakarta-based Harry Su, head of research of Bahana Securities. "We think investors will have to go back to fundamentals and pay closer attention to growth rather than sentiment. We expect stocks and sectors to be more sensitive to earnings surprises," he said. The Philippine main index edged down 0.08 percent. It is set to end the week almost 4 percent higher, the biggest since September and outpacing others in the region. Philippine inflation slowed for the second straight month in March on lower prices of alcoholic beverages and tobacco and partly as a pending power tariff hike has yet to be implemented, allowing policymakers room to keep rates steady for now. In Bangkok, the SET index edged up 0.2 percent, recovering from the loss on Thursday amid technical-led buying. Top gainers included shares of Kasikornbank and Bangkok Bank. The market focus remained on a planned mass rally by supporters of the government on Saturday. The Thai market is shut on Monday for a public holiday. "Even though no violence is expected, we believe investors would turn more cautious in trading today ahead of the long holiday weekend," strategists at broker Phillip Securities said in a report. Stocks in Singapore and Malaysia traded nearly flat, both heading to end the week higher. Vietnam edged down on the day, on track for a second week of loss. Asian markets settled in for a subdued session on Friday as investors counted down the hours to the U.S. jobs report, while the euro nursed a grudge after the European Central Bank opened the door to more aggressive easing, albeit not just yet. For Asian Companies click; For South East Asia Hot Stock reports, click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS Change at 0458 GMT Market Current Prev Close Pct Move TR SE Asia Index* 414.05 414.08 -0.01 Singapore 3216.00 3220.06 -0.13 Kuala Lumpur 1857.49 1855.63 +0.10 Bangkok 1394.28 1391.22 +0.22 Jakarta 4848.10 4891.32 -0.88 Manila 6581.54 6587.08 -0.08 Ho Chi Minh 588.41 589.44 -0.17 * The Thomson Reuters South East Asia Index is a highly representative indicator of stocks listed in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. (Reporting by Viparat Jantraprap; Editing by Anand Basu)
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