SE Asia Stocks-Cautious on Brexit fears
June 16 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets were cautious on Thursday after the U.S. Federal Reserve refrained from raising interest rates and the Bank of Japan kept monetary policy steady, while Brexit fears continued to weigh. The U.S. central bank kept policy steady as widely expected and lowered its economic projections but signalled that it still planned to raise rates twice in 2016. A small majority of Wall Street's top banks expects the Fed to raise interest rates no more than once this year, a Reuters poll showed on Wednesday. The Bank of Japan kept monetary policy steady and stuck to its optimistic view of the economy on Thursday, even as renewed yen rises and slumping stock prices threaten to hurt business sentiment and derail a fragile economic recovery. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.8 percent at 0430 GMT, after briefly rising earlier in the day. Worries that Britain, the world's fifth-largest economy, could quit the European Union after a June 23 referendum added to the volatility. "It's all about the Brexit now. Markets are reacting to the Brexit risks," said a Singapore-based analyst who did not want to be identified. Some recent opinion polls have put the "Leave" campaign ahead, though bookmakers' odds still favour a vote to "Remain". The Philippine index rose nearly 1 percent, led by shares of telecom service providers such as Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co, which rose 1.8 percent. "It might be a case of rotation of buying, probably lightening up on some countries and moving to the Philippines because of our better fundamentals at the moment," said Jose Vistan, an analyst with Manila-based AB Capital Securities. The Fed's decision has helped the appetite in a way for risk assets, Vistan said. "If funds are going to risk assets, they want to go into countries that have strong fundamentals," Vistan added. Singapore stocks were down 0.8 percent, with oil and gas shares dragging the index down. Oil prices fell on Thursday, heading for a sixth session of declines, following a lower-than-expected draw on U.S. stockpiles and concerns over Britain's exit from the European Union. Shares of Keppel Corp Ltd fell 1.7 percent, while Sembcorp Industries Ltd was down 2.5 percent. Vietnam rose 0.3 percent, led by utilities and healthcare stocks. PetroVietnam Power Nhon Trach 2 JSC rose 6.1 percent. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS STOCK MARKETS Change at 0430 GMT Market Current prev close Pct Move Singapore 2752.62 2774.25 -0.78 Bangkok 1424.04 1434.89 -0.76 Manila 7573.12 7501.65 0.95 Jakarta 4816.776 4814.824 0.04 Kuala Lumpur 1616.77 1627.96 -0.69 Ho Chi Minh 628.59 627.02 0.25 Change on year Market Current End 2015 Pct Move Singapore 2752.62 2882.73 -4.51 Bangkok 1424.04 1288.02 10.56 Manila 7573.12 6952.08 8.93 Jakarta 4816.776 4593.008 4.87 Kuala Lumpur 1616.77 1692.51 -4.48 Ho Chi Minh 628.59 579.03 8.56 (Reporting by Krishna V Kurup in Bengaluru; Editing by Anupama Dwivedi)
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