June 6, 2019 / 9:57 AM / 14 days ago

SE Asia Stocks-Most inch higher on rate cut hopes, growth concerns limit gains

    * Thailand gains for 3rd straight session 
    * Indonesia, Malaysia closed for holidays

    By Niyati Shetty
    June 6 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets edged
higher on Thursday as hopes that the U.S. Federal Reserve would
ease monetary policy to shore up slowing economic activity,
countered concerns over global growth risks.
    Also, markets moved in a tight range with investors waiting
for key employment data from the United States on any insight in
the world's largest economy.
    Given recent dovish comments by the U.S. Federal Reserve, a
milder reading in employment could further the case for a rate
cut in the future, which may benefit regional markets with more
capital inflows. 
    Markets anticipate that the Fed will cut interest rates soon
after the central bank's top officials warned that the global
trade war may force them to respond appropriately. 
    The Philippine bourse ended up 0.2% with a slowing economy
and a lack of price pressures likely making the case for further
policy easing by the central bank this year. 
    While data released on Wednesday showed annual inflation
accelerating in May for the first time in eight months,
investors remained optimistic after the central bank chief said
the figure "does not constitute a trend".
    Conglomerates SM Investments Corp and Ayala Corp
 dragged the Manila-index, each declining nearly 1%.  
    Restricting gains in the region, the International Monetary
Fund on Wednesday warned that the Sino-U.S. tariffs could slash
global gross domestic product by 0.5% in 2020, as the escalating
dispute could depress growth that is currently expected to
improve this year.
    The estimate does not include the potential ramifications of
U.S. tariffs on Mexican goods starting on Monday. Talks between
the North American neighbours ended with few signs of progress
on Wednesday.    
    Thai stocks rose on strength in the real estate and
industrial sectors, although gains were capped by weakness in
energy stocks tracking a protracted downtrend in oil prices. 
    However, in comparison to its regional peers, Thailand's
economic outlook is rather strong for the year, given its strong
current account balance and manufacturing activity. 
    Thailand's new parliament confirmed military junta leader
General Prayuth Chan-ocha as civilian prime minister on
Wednesday, in a vote that comes more than two months after the
March 24 general election. 
    Elsewhere, utility and financial stocks weighed on the
Vietnam index. Petrovietnam Gas Joint Stock Corp
and Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Viet Nam
 declined 1.6% and 1.2%, respectively. 
    Indonesian and Malaysian markets were closed on Thursday due
to holidays. 
    
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SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS
    
 Market                 Current   Previous close  Pct Move
 Singapore              3146.18   3142.37         0.12
 Bangkok                1653.41   1648.46         0.30
 Manila                 7959.86   7945.37         0.18
 Ho Chi Minh            948.21    951.41          -0.34
                                                  
 Change so far in 2019                            
 Market                 Current   End 2018        Pct Move
 Singapore              3146.18   3068.76         2.52
 Bangkok                1653.41   1563.88         5.72
 Manila                 7959.86   7,466.02        6.61
 Ho Chi Minh            948.21    892.54          6.24
 
 (Reporting by Niyati Shetty and Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru;
Editing by Bernard Orr)
  
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