SE Asia Stocks -Singapore leads regional gains; banks up after results
BANGKOK, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian shares edged higher on Friday as Singapore's key index touched a more than three-week high, led by bank stocks, and the Thai benchmark extended gains as buying by domestic funds lifted large caps. The sentiment in Asia was broadly positive, with Japanese stocks up after the Bank of Japan surprised markets with fresh easing steps. Singapore's Straits Times Index was up 0.8 percent at 3,259.61, the highest since Oct. 9. It is on track for a weekly gain of 1.1 percent and a modest monthly loss, in line with others in the region. Gains in U.S. stocks overnight were also supportive, brokers said. "With Wall Street's firm overnight close, we think it will be hard to ignore the gains and there could be some slight window dressing as well, this being the last day of the trading month though sentiment is still cautious given the recent volatility," broker NRA Capital said in a report. Shares of United Overseas Bank Ltd climbed 2.2 percent after the company reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit. Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation Ltd and DBS Group Holdings Ltd both traded higher after favourable results. The Thai SET index rose 0.5 percent, up for a seventh straight session. Portfolio managers continued buying shares for long-term equity funds and retirement mutual funds, an equity trader in Bangkok said. Favourable tax treatment made the funds popular among investors, with demand often active towards the end of the year. Shares of Advanced Info Service Pcl and Siam Cement Pcl were among those actively traded. External factors overshadowed weak domestic data, brokers said, after data showed Thailand's manufacturing output fell for an 18th straight month in September, reflecting weakness in the production of cars, hard disk drives, petroleum and jewellery. Strong economic news in major countries drove greater interest towards risk assets and boosted a belief that the U.S. could tolerate higher interest rates, broker KGI Securities said in a report. U.S. stocks rose on Thursday, boosted by a strong reading on quarterly economic growth and by another round of upbeat earnings reports including Visa, which accounted for nearly 140 points in the Dow industrials. For Asian Companies click; For South East Asia Hot Stock reports, click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS Change at 0612 GMT Market Current Prev Close Pct Move Singapore 3259.61 3234.31 +0.78 Kuala Lumpur 1843.59 1842.78 +0.04 Bangkok 1573.06 1565.35 +0.49 Jakarta 5068.07 5058.85 +0.18 Manila 7182.94 7170.99 +0.17 Ho Chi Minh 593.22 589.14 +0.69 (Reporting by Viparat Jantraprap; Editing by Anupama Dwivedi)
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