SE Asia Stocks-Flat to lower ahead of U.S. economic data
By Aparajita Saxena May 31 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stocks closed flat to lower on Tuesday as investors waited for cues from U.S. inflation and employment data due 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 if current economic conditions held, 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. "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," said Grace Aller, an analyst with Manila-based AP Securities. "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." Singapore's Straits Times Index closed marginally lower on the day, its second session of losses. It lost 1.67 percent this month, its second straight monthly decline. Vietnam shares rose for a third straight session, led by energy stocks. It gained 3.4 percent in May, its fourth consecutive monthly jump. Indonesia snapped four sessions of gains and closed 0.81 percent lower, dragged down by technology stocks. For the month, it declined 0.86 percent, its second straight monthly fall. "Investors in Indonesia are concerned about the economic conditions - they're trying to find evidences of growth, which are not actually there," said Taye Shim, an analyst with Daewoo Securities Indonesia. Malaysia extended losses into a second straight day and finished 0.24 percent lower. It declined 2.79 percent for the month. Philippines surrendered early gains and closed down 0.84 percent. It posted a gain of 3.4 percent for the month. Thailand closed little changed on the day, shrugging off data that showed the country's industrial output rose for a second straight month in April. The index gained 1.40 percent for the month, its fourth monthly gain in five. For Asian Companies click; STOCK MARKETS Change on day Market Current Previous close Pct Move Singapore 2791.06 2796.75 -0.20 Bangkok 1424.28 1424.12 0.01 Manila 7401.6 7464.34 -0.84 Jakarta 4796.869 4836.033 -0.81 Kuala Lumpur 1626 1629.87 -0.24 Ho Chi Minh 618.44 614.5 0.64 Change on year Market Current End 2015 Pct Move Singapore 2791.06 2882.73 -3.18 Bangkok 1424.28 1288.02 10.58 Manila 7401.6 6952.08 6.47 Jakarta 4796.869 4593.008 4.44 Kuala Lumpur 1626 1692.51 -3.93 Ho Chi Minh 618.44 579.03 6.81 (Reporting by Aparajita Saxena; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath and Subhranshu Sahu)
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