SE Asia Stocks-Philippines gains on hopes of policy easing

    * Philippines posts highest weekly gain in 11 weeks
    * Vietnam snaps three straight sessions of losses

    By Shreya Mariam Job
    March 22 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets
ended higher on Friday, with Philippines rising to a near
six-week closing peak amid expectation of monetary policy easing
after the central bank cut its 2019 inflation forecast.
    Bangko Sentral Pilipinas (BSP) had adopted a rigorous rate
hike cycle last year, between May and November, totalling 175
basis points in a bid to cool inflation rates that had reached a
near-decade peak.
    "It (inflation forecast cut) is more of an indirect signal
that BSP is ready to do some easing of monetary policy soon,"
said Rachelle C Cruz, an analyst with AP Securities.
    The Philippine benchmark stock index closed higher
for a third session in a row and posted its highest weekly gain
in 11 weeks.        
    Shares of Universal Robina Corp gained 2.9 percent,
while International Container Terminal Services Inc
rose 2.3 percent.
    Thai stocks rose 0.8 percent to a three-week closing
peak, buoyed by market heavyweights Siam Commercial Bank Pcl
(SCB) and PTT Exploration and Production Pcl
    Shares of Siam Commercial Bank closed 3.1 percent higher
after the company said it had entered into exclusive talks with
Hong Kong-based insurer FWD Group for the sale of its life
insurance business, nearly two years after previous talks broke
    Shares of PTTEP ended 2 percent higher after the company
bought oil and gas assets in Malaysia for $2.13 billion from
Murphy Oil Corp.
    For the week, Thai shares gained 1.3 percent, snapping three
weekly falls.
    Real estate stocks helped Vietnam snap three straight
sessions of losses. Vinhomes JSC and Vingroup JSC
 rose 3.3 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.
    Malaysian stocks closed higher for the first time in
four sessions with telecom stocks leading the recovery, but lost
0.8 percent for the week.     
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  Change on the                                    
  Market          Current      Previous    Pct Move
  Singapore       3212.1       3213.65     -0.05
  Bangkok         1646.29      1634        0.75
  Manila          8013.42      7954.72     0.74
  Jakarta         6525.274     6501.776    0.36
  Kuala Lumpur    1666.66      1663.66     0.18
 Ho Chi Minh      988.71       981.78      0.71
  Change so far                            
 in 2019                                   
  Market          Current      End 2018    Pct Move
  Singapore       3212.1       3068.76     4.67
  Bangkok         1646.29      1563.88     5.27
  Manila          8013.42      7,466.02    7.33
  Jakarta         6525.274     6,194.50    5.34
  Kuala Lumpur    1666.66      1690.58     -1.41
  Ho Chi Minh     988.71       892.54      10.77
 (Reporting by Shreya Mariam Job in Bengaluru; Editing by
Subhranshu Sahu)

Nuestros Estándares: Los principios Thomson Reuters.