CORRECTED-SE Asia Stocks-Cautious ahead of U.S. econ data, Yellen's speech next week
(Corrects paragraph 1 to show U.S. inflation, jobs data due this week, not next week) By Aparajita Saxena May 31 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stocks were largely cautious on Tuesday as investors waited for cues from U.S. inflation and employment data this week, the two most important indicators for a "data-dependent" U.S. Federal Reserve. Investors will also be keeping a keen eye out for Fed chair Janet Yellen's speech in Philadelphia on Monday for clarity over whether rates would be increased as early as June. On Friday, Yellen said that if current economic conditions hold, a rate hike over the next few months would be "appropriate." While Fed policymakers will be looking at inflation and jobs data as they decide whether to raise key interest rates as soon as June, traders will read through them to try and get ahead of the Fed decision. "We're not expecting markets to react badly to the interest rate hike, the way they did last year. Investors are comfortable and are getting a clearer picture of the trajectory of a Fed rate hike, so there will be less surprises in the markets this time, and less sudden movements," said Grace Aller, an analyst at Manila-based AP Securities. "The underlying message from a Fed rate hike is that global economies are recovering, and that sits well with investors. We expect markets to move sideways until then." Singapore was up, underpinned by financial stocks. Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp and United Overseas Bank Ltd were among the top percentage gainers. Oil and gas stocks also rose, tracking an increase in oil prices which were up toward $50 barrel on Monday. Sembcorp Marine and Keppel Corp were up 1.29 percent and 0.91 percent, respectively. Vietnam rose 0.9 percent, led by gains in utilities and financials. Indonesia however fell, snapping four days of gains, dragged down by financials. "Expect some technical correction on JCI today after a 2 percent rally since the last 5 days," said Trimegah Securities in a note. Malaysia slipped for a second straight day, with CIMB Group Bhd losing the most on the index. For Asian Companies click; STOCK MARKETS Change at 0502 GMT Market Current Previous close Pct Move Singapore 2825.15 2796.75 1.02 Bangkok 1422.78 1424.12 -0.09 Manila 7492.32 7464.34 0.37 Jakarta 4814.096 4836.033 -0.45 Kuala Lumpur 1626.31 1629.87 -0.22 Ho Chi Minh 619.92 614.5 0.88 Change on year Market Current End 2015 Pct Move Singapore 2825.15 2882.73 -2.00 Bangkok 1422.78 1288.02 10.46 Manila 7492.32 6952.08 7.77 Jakarta 4814.096 4593.008 4.81 Kuala Lumpur 1626.31 1692.51 -3.91 Ho Chi Minh 619.92 579.03 7.06 (Reporting by Aparajita Saxena; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath)
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