May 7, 2019 / 10:22 AM / 15 days ago

SE Asia Stocks-Most end firmer as China set to continue trade talks

    * Beijing says its top negotiator will go to the U.S., as
planned
    * Malaysia cenbank cuts key interest rate by 25bp
    * Thai stocks dragged down by energy shares

    By Nikhil Subba
    May 7 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stocks ended higher
on Tuesday after fears about trade war escalation were calmed as
Beijing said a Chinese delegation was preparing to travel to
Washington for talks.
    Beijing confirmed that its top negotiator, Vice Premier Liu
He, would go to the United States on Thursday and Friday as
planned, bringing some relief to the markets after additional
tariffs on Chinese imports called on by U.S. President Donald
Trump shocked financial markets.
    The swift deterioration in negotiations between the world's
two largest economies hit global financial markets as investors
faced the prospect of an escalation rather than an end to a
10-month-old trade war.
    Singapore stocks, which are most exposed to global
trade, rebounded from previous session's slump to close 0.7
percent higher on Tuesday.
    Malaysian shares ended higher after the country's
central bank - Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) - cut its overnight
policy rate (OPR) by 25 basis points to 3.00 percent, its first
since 2016, thus becoming a front runner in Southeast Asia to
cut rates this year.
    "The rate cut was widely expected ... so even with the rate
cut, the sentiment is still fragile (following Monday's
sell-off)," said Chan Ken Yew, head of research at Kuala
Lumpur-based Kenanga Investment Bank.
    Some analysts are expecting the central bank to stay pat on
its benchmark rate for the rest of 2019.
    Telecommunication service providers Axiata Group
and Digi.com were among the best performers on the
benchmark index.
    The Philippine and Indonesian indexes closed
up about 0.6 percent each, boosted by telecommunication stocks. 
    Philippine's central bank is widely expected to cut the
Overnight Reverse Repurchase Rate (RRP) by 25 bps at its
monetary policy meeting on May 9, as the nation also faces
benign inflation.
    A similar move is expected for Indonesia, after data on
Monday showed that the country's economy expanded more slowly
than expected in the first quarter, as investment dropped.

    Bucking the trend, Thai stocks ended 0.6 percent
lower, dented by declines in energy shares.    

    
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SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS AT 1012 GMT
    
    
  Change on day                                 
  Market          Current    Previous  Pct Move
                             Close     
  Singapore       3312.52    3290.62    0.67
  Bangkok         1669.68    1679.05   -0.56
  Manila          7910.63    7862.3     0.61
  Jakarta         6297.318   6256.352   0.65
  Kuala Lumpur    1639.37    1632.8     0.40
  Ho Chi Minh     957.56     957.97    -0.04
                                       
  Change on year                       
  Market          Current    End 2017  Pct Move
  Singapore       3312.52    3068.76   7.94
  Bangkok         1669.68    1563.88   6.77
  Manila          7910.63    8558.42   -7.57
  Jakarta         6297.318   6194.498  1.66
  Kuala Lumpur    1639.37    1690.58   -3.03
  Ho Chi Minh     957.56     984.24    -2.71
                                       
 
 (Reporting by Nikhil Subba; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)
  
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