March 16, 2017 / 10:28 AM / a year ago

SE Asia Stocks-Rise as U.S. Fed signals gradual tightening

    By Aparajita Saxena
    March 16 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets ended
higher on Thursday with Indonesia closing at its highest in
nearly two years, as the U.S. Federal Reserve raised rates but
signalled a more gradual pace of monetary tightening this year
than many had expected.
    In a move spurred by steady economic growth, strong job
gains and confidence that inflation is rising to the central
bank's target, the Fed raised rates by 25 basis points, its
second in three months, with Chair Janet Yellen emphasizing that
future rate increases would be "gradual".
    In Asia, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares
outside Japan rose as much as 1.7 percent to its
highest level in 20 months, while U.S. stocks rose sharply
    "The rate hike works in two ways for the Asian markets,"
said Taye Shim, head of research at Jakarta-based Mirae Asset
    "For one, I think the "accommodative" stance of the Fed,
despite the hike, was well received by the market. Emerging
market equities are likely to get a breather from the
uncertainties related to the pace of rate hikes."
    "Secondly, rate increases driven by inflation should bode
well for EM equities as companies have a good excuse to increase
their selling prices."
    In Southeast Asia, banks, which usually tend to benefit from
rate hike cycles that allow them to charge more money for loans,
were among the top gainers. 
    Indonesia closed at its highest since April 2015,
driven by financials and consumer discretionary stocks, with
Unilever Indonesia, Telekom Indonesia and
Bank Rakyat Indonesia spearheading gains. 
    An index of the 45 most liquid stocks rose 2.19
percent to its highest in nearly four months.
    In Singapore, gains were led by oil rig builder Keppel Corp
 as global oil prices rose, and on a weaker dollar,
which makes greenback-denominated oil less expensive for holders
of other currencies.
    The Straits Times Index climbed to its highest level
in more than 18 months. 
    Malaysia's second-largest lender by assets CIMB Group
 supported gains on the index, hitting its
highest mark in 21 months.
    Philippines rose modestly, helped by industrials,
while Vietnam eked out small gains.
For Asian Companies click;  

  Market             Current      Previous Close  Pct Move
  Singapore          3163.52      3137.43         0.83
  Bangkok            1557.01      1540.8          1.05
  Manila             7278.6       7253.79         0.34
  Jakarta            5518.241     5432.381        1.58
  Kuala Lumpur       1737.14      1717.36         1.15
  Ho Chi Minh        714.92       713.14          0.25
  Change this year                                
  Market             Current      End 2016        Pct Move
  Singapore          3163.52      2880.76         9.82
  Bangkok            1557.01      1542.94         0.91
  Manila             7278.6       6840.64         6.40
  Jakarta            5518.241     5296.711        4.18
  Kuala Lumpur       1737.14      1641.73         5.81
  Ho Chi Minh        714.92       664.87          7.53
 (Reporting by Aparajita Saxena in Bengaluru; Editing by Biju
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