May 8, 2019 / 10:08 AM / 16 days ago

SE Asia Stocks-Most end lower on worries Sino-U.S. trade deal may derail

    * China dispatches top negotiator to U.S. for make-or-break
deal
China posts mixed April trade data
Thailand cenbank maintains interest rate at 1.75 pct

    By Nikhil Subba
    May 8 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets closed
weaker on Wednesday, as concerns of an escalation in the
Sino-U.S. trade dispute reflected a reprice in global growth
prospects, while the Philippine index rebounded to close
marginally higher.
    Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is due to visit Washington on
Thursday and Friday for trade talks in a last-ditch bid to avert
a sharp increase in tariffs on Chinese goods ordered by U.S.
President Donald Trump.    
    "I don't think investors are feeling too hopeful about
things ... hopes that the global economy is stabalizing will all
be gone if the trade talks fail ... if the tariffs that Trump
has tweeted are applied on Friday, there will be more downside
on markets," said Joanne Goh, equity strategist, DBS Bank Ltd.
    Trade data from China - Southeast Asia's top trading partner
- showed exports unexpectedly shrank in April, but imports
surprised with their first increase in five months, indicating
some improvement in domestic demand.
    The data painted a mixed picture of the world's
second-largest economy, which has been reeling under slowing
growth partly due to the trade dispute.
    Singapore stocks, which are most exposed to global
trade, closed 1 percent lower, weighed down by losses in the oil
and gas sector. The United States and China are major export
destinations for the city-state.    
    Singapore-based lender DBS Group Holdings, which
was the biggest contributor to the benchmark's decline, slipped
nearly 1 percent at close.    
    Thai stocks closed nearly 1 percent down at a
one-month low, with consumer non-cyclicals and technology stocks
being the top drags.
    Thailand's central bank on Wednesday kept its benchmark
interest rate unchanged at 1.75 percent, as widely expected,
saying monetary policy remained accommodative, while risks to
financial stability remained.
    Indonesian and Malaysian stocks both ended
about 0.4 percent weaker. Industrial stocks dragged the
Malaysian index lower, while the utilities sector pulled down
the Indonesian benchmark.
    Philippine stocks reversed course to close marginally
higher, after dropping 2 percent earlier in the session.
    Gains in the benchmark were boosted by heavyweights SM
Investment Corp, which climbed 1.8 percent after the
conglomerate posted strong first-quarter results.
               
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SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS AT 1002 GMT
    
  Change on day                                     
  Market            Current     Previous    Pct Move
                                Close       
  Singapore         3282.5      3312.52     -0.91
  Bangkok           1655.39     1669.68     -0.86
  Manila            7926.69     7910.63      0.20
  Jakarta           6270.202    6297.318    -0.43
  Kuala Lumpur      1633.55     1639.37     -0.36
  Ho Chi Minh       951.22      957.56      -0.66
                                            
  Change on year                            
  Market            Current     End 2017    Pct Move
  Singapore         3282.5      3068.76     6.97
  Bangkok           1655.39     1563.88     5.85
  Manila            7926.69     8558.42     -7.38
  Jakarta           6270.202    6194.498    1.22
  Kuala Lumpur      1633.55     1690.58     -3.37
  Ho Chi Minh       951.22      984.24      -3.35
 
    

 (Reporting by Nikhil Subba; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)
  
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