February 23, 2017 / 11:13 AM / a year ago

SE Asia Stocks-Cautious after Fed minutes; S'pore at 18-mth peak

    By Susan Mathew
    Feb 23 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets, except
Singapore, moved sideways on a lack of firm cues after minutes
of a U.S. Federal Reserve meeting showed it would wait for jobs
and inflation data to meet expectations to decide on the timing
of its next rate increase.
    The minutes of the Jan. 31-Feb. 1 policy discussion, at
which the U.S. central bank voted to keep rates unchanged, also
showed the depth of uncertainty at the Fed because of a lack of
clarity on President Donald Trump's economic program.

    Investors are cautious about the "global uncertainties
related to Trump's economic policies as well as the interest
rate direction of the Federal Reserve, which was actually a
non-event," said Taye Shim, head of research at Mirae Asset
    "So, most of the investors within the emerging markets are
pretty much on the sidelines."
    Singapore shares hit fresh 18-month highs on
Thursday, led by oil and gas stocks and financials.
    Keppel Corp rose 3.3 percent, while Sembcorp
Industries Ltd added 5 percent as global oil prices
rose after U.S. data showed a surprise decline in inventories.

    Also, data on Thursday showed the city-state's rate of
inflation rose at its fastest pace in two years in January.

    The momentum in consumer prices, combined with
stronger-than-expected economic growth at the end of 2016 and
the government's generous budget for the coming year will take
near-term monetary policy easing off the table, analysts said. 
    Philippine stocks closed at their highest in more
than three weeks, as energy and telecom stocks climbed.
    Semirara Mining and Globe Telecom rose
more than 2.5 percent each.
    Thai shares lost 0.3 percent, as consumer
non-cyclicals and energy stocks fell.
    PTT Exploration and Production PCL lost 2
percent, while Charoen Pokphand Foods PCL shed nearly 1
    Indonesia made small gains, while Vietnam
lost marginally.
    Malaysia fell about 0.2 percent, dragged down by
Axiata Group Bhd, which lost 5.6 percent after fourth
quarter net profit declined 34 percent.
For Asian Companies click;  

  Market            Current       Previous Close   Pct Move
  Singapore         3137.57       3122.2           0.49
  Bangkok           1567.32       1572.04          -0.30
  Manila            7335.56       7304.45          0.43
  Jakarta           5372.748      5358.683         0.26
  Kuala Lumpur      1704.48       1708.08          -0.21
 Ho Chi Minh        716.87        717.24           -0.05
  Change on year                                   
  Market            Current       End 2016         Pct Move
  Singapore         3137.57       2880.76          8.91
  Bangkok           1567.32       1542.94          1.58
  Manila            7335.56       6840.64          7.2
  Jakarta           5372.748      5296.711         1.44
  Kuala Lumpur      1704.48       1641.73          3.82
 Ho Chi Minh        716.87        644.87           11.2
 (Reporting by Susan Mathewin Bengaluru; Editing by Biju
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