SE Asia Stocks - Malaysia near 3-week low; Thai property, bank shares up
BANGKOK, March 6 (Reuters) - Malaysia's key stock index fell to a near three-week low on Friday after worse-than-expected exports data for January while Thai shares rebounded as investors bought banks and property stocks before the central bank's interst rate meeting next week. The Kuala Lumpur composite index traded down 0.13 percent at 1,803.76, the lowest level since Feb. 16, and taking its loss on the week to almost 1 percent. Malaysia's exports slid 0.6 percent in January from a year earlier, wrongfooting expectations for a rise. Banking shares, among interest rate-sensitive stocks, were little changed after the central bank kept its key interest rate unchanged at 3.25 percent, as expected. Shares of Public Bank edged up 0.1 percent and CIMB Group Holdings gained 0.4 percent. Kuala Lumpur-based broker Affin Hwang Capital said it expected the policy rate will be kept unchanged in 2015 and maintained a 'neutral' rating on the Malaysian banking sector thanks to a muted earnings outlook going into 2015. "We foresee continuous NIM pressure, further weakening in loan growth, lacklustre capital market activities and concerns of asset quality," it said in a report. Bangkok's SET index edged up 0.2 percent after Thursday's drop to a six-week closing low, trimming its loss on the week to 1.9 percent. Gains were led by property developer AP Thailand and state run Krung Thai Bank. "Next week, the most important factor could be Thai MPC decision on March 11, at which the committee may cut policy rate to shore up domestic economy," broker KGI Securities said in a report. The Bank of Thailand said last week its benchmark one-day repurchase rate of 2.0 percent is already low and any rate cut may do little to encourage more borrowing for economic activities. Most others in the region traded higher with Singapore , Indonesia and Vietnam set to end the week with modest gains. For Asian Companies click; For South East Asia Hot Stock reports, click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS Change at 0642 GMT Market Current Prev Close Pct Move Singapore 3418.49 3395.27 +0.68 Kuala Lumpur 1803.76 1806.09 -0.13 Bangkok 1556.80 1553.33 +0.22 Jakarta 5485.09 5450.95 +0.63 Manila 7843.67 7819.04 +0.31 Ho Chi Minh 593.92 596.91 -0.50 (Reporting by Viparat Jantraprap; Editing by Sunil Nair)
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