SE Asia Stocks - Singapore up after unexpected policy easing
BANGKOK, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Stocks in Singapore edged higher in range-bound trading on Wednesday as an unexpectedly monetary policy easing lifted sentiment, while Malaysia and Thailand were little-changed ahead of policy reviews by their central banks. Singapore's central bank unexpectedly eased monetary policy ahead of its scheduled review in April, in a move that extends decisive shifts by global policymakers to counter deflationary pressures and slowing growth. A fall in U.S. stocks overnight kept investors cautious, brokers in Singapore said. Asian stock markets also followed Wall Street into the red early on Wednesday. The Straits Times Index was a tad higher at 3,414.47, climbing at one point to 3,427.19. Gains were broad based, with Singapore Telecommunications and United Overseas Bank among the actively traded. Singapore's dollar hit its weakest on Wednesday in nearly 4-1/2 years. "The easing in the short term is not bad for the market because it's good in terms of liquidity. But the hope for market investors in the long term is more about the economy," said a Singapore-based equity trader. The Thai index rose 0.3 percent as the low free-float Bank of Ayudhya jumped 4.2 percent, and was the top performer on the 50 large-cap index. Hotel group Minor International gained 1.5 percent on a plan to buy assets in Portugal and Brazil. "We expect the Thai market to trade range-bound on Wednesday, awaiting more macro factors like the Thai MPC meeting results this afternoon and the US FOMC decision tonight local time," broker KGI Securities said in a report. Sixteen of 20 economists in a Reuters poll predict the one-day repurchase rate will be left at 2.0 percent. The other four expect a 25 basis points cut, citing the slow economic recovery and benign inflation. The decision is due around 0730 GMT. In Kuala Lumpur, the index slipped 0.3 percent, led down by financial and banking shares such as Hong Leong Financial Group and Malayan Banking. Malaysia's central bank will likely stand pat on interest rates at its policy meeting on Wednesday due to mounting economic risks from sliding oil prices and a fragile ringgit. The Philippine main index was headed for a fourth straight gain, up 0.3 percent at 7,653.07, an all-time high. For Asian Companies click; For South East Asia Hot Stock reports, click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS Change at 0359 GMT Market Current Prev Close Pct Move Singapore 3414.47 3412.20 +0.07 Kuala Lumpur 1797.72 1803.17 -0.31 Bangkok 1594.75 1589.81 +0.31 Jakarta 5273.04 5277.15 -0.08 Manila 7653.07 7630.57 +0.29 Ho Chi Minh 581.37 579.30 +0.36 (Reporting by Viparat Jantraprap; Editing by Prateek Chatterjee)
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