May 9, 2019 / 4:25 AM / 15 days ago

SE Asia Stocks-Philippines falls most on tepid growth data; trade jitters continue

    * Chinese Vice Premier Liu He to meet U.S. officials in
Washington
    * Philippines GDP growth comes in lower than expected
    * Thai index up marginally

    By Nikhil Subba
    May 9 (Reuters) - The Philippine stock index fell nearly 2
percent on Thursday after a disappointing first-quarter growth
data, while most of its peers in the region extended losses as
investors remained edgy ahead of the crucial U.S.-China trade
talks.
    Markets were nervous after Beijing on Thursday threatened
countermeasures if the additional 25 percent tariff on $200
billion worth of Chinese goods, ordered by U.S. President Donald
Trump, came into force on Friday.
    Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is expected to meet U.S.
officials in Washington on Thursday and Friday for negotiations,
as China attempts to scrape out a deal to avert the sharp rise
in tariffs, following U.S. accusations that Beijing had
backtracked on earlier commitments.
    "The region is anxious about the possibility that the U.S.
and China may not reach a trade deal after all, which many
people had already priced in in prior months," said Fio Dejesus,
equity research analyst at RCBC Securities.
    The Philippine index was the biggest loser in
Southeast Asia, falling as much as 2.1 percent, with financials
and industrials as top drags, after data on Thursday showed that
the country's economy grew at its weakest pace in four years in
the first quarter.
    The archipelago nation's economy grew 5.6 percent in the
first three months of the year, slower than the 6.1 percent
forecast in a Reuters poll, with the economic planning secretary
indicating inflation to slow further in coming quarters.

    The soft data is expected to prompt the central bank to
lower key interest rates when it meets later in the day. 
    Malaysian shares fell about 0.7 percent to their
lowest since April 23, dragged by food and beverage products
maker Nestle (Malaysia) and synthetic rubber gloves
maker Hartalega Holdings, with both shedding more than
2 percent.
    Singapore fell 0.5 percent to its lowest since April
2 led by consumer goods and industrials.
    The city-state is most affected by the U.S.-China trade
turmoil in the region, as the two biggest economies in the world
are its biggest export destinations.
    Bucking the trend, Thai stocks edged higher, driven
by Thai Optical Group's 20 percent climb as it hit its
highest in more than a year. 
    
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SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS AT 0359 GMT
    
 Market          Current   Previous Close  Pct Move
 Singapore       3268.36   3283.84         -0.47
 Bangkok         1655.01   1654.01         0.06
 Manila          7789.07   7926.69         -1.74
 Jakarta         6234.698  6270.202        -0.57
 Kuala Lumpur    1622.44   1633.55         -0.68
 Ho Chi Minh     950.12    951.22          -0.12
                                           
 Change on year                            
 Market          Current   End 2017        Pct Move
 Singapore       3268.36   3068.76         6.50
 Bangkok         1655.01   1563.88         5.83
 Manila          7789.07   8558.42         -8.99
 Jakarta         6234.698  6194.498        0.65
 Kuala Lumpur    1622.44   1690.58         -4.03
 Ho Chi Minh     950.12    984.24          -3.47
    
    

 (Reporting by Nikhil Subba; Editing by Shreejay Sinha)
  
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