SE Asia Stocks-Thai hits near 1-yr high on upbeat U.S. data; Singapore slides
By Shashwat Pradhan July 7 (Reuters) - Thai shares vaulted to a near 1-year high on Thursday, buoyed by upbeat U.S. economic data that took some of the sting out of the Brexit scare, while Singapore slid, dragged down by financial stocks. Sentiment across the region got a lift from a survey showing activity in the giant U.S. services sector hit a seven-month high in June as new orders surged and companies hired more. The signs of underlying strength in the economy suggested it could withstand the financial markets turbulence, sparked by uncertainty following last month's stunning vote in Britain to leave the European Union, economists said. Most Asian markets opened firmer, with the MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rising 0.8 percent. In commodity markets, oil prices recouped some lost ground on the better U.S. data and expectations for a sharp drop in crude stockpiles. The Thai index climbed more than half a percent at 0422 GMT, extending gains to hit its highest since July last year on strong performance by energy and financial stocks. "We expect a more positive backdrop for the Thai market in 2H16 as economic indicators show signs of bottoming and improvement," James Griffiths, an analyst with Citigroup, said in a note. "Political events, especially referendum in August, could be key and we expect positive developments to support 2H market." Thailand prepares to vote on a new constitution on Aug. 7 that critics fear will entrench the military's influence. Vietnam's benchmark index hovered near a more than 8-year high, driven by materials and utilities, which climbed on expectations of an increase in credit flows. Banks in Vietnam expect lending this year to surpass targets, growing 20.4 percent over 2015, fuelled by stronger credit demand and better business conditions, the central bank said on Wednesday. Singapore slid marginally, dragged down by financial stocks, which contributed to more than half the losses on the index. Malaysia and Indonesia were closed on Thursday for Eid-al-Fitr. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS STOCK MARKETS Change at 0422 GMT Market Current Prev close Pct Move Singapore 2859.8 2864.67 -0.17 Bangkok 1460.2 1452.59 0.52 Manila 7784.68 7808.13 -0.30 Ho Chi Minh 653.12 649.46 0.56 Change on year Market Current End 2015 Pct Move Singapore 2859.8 2882.73 -0.80 Bangkok 1460.2 1288.02 13.37 Manila 7784.68 6952.08 11.98 Ho Chi Minh 653.12 579.03 12.80 (Reporting by Shashwat Pradhan; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath)
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