June 17, 2019 / 9:54 AM / 4 months ago

SE Asia Stocks-Slip as investors cautious ahead of cenbank policy meetings

    * Focus on U.S Fed, BOJ, BOE meetings this week
    * Philippines ends over 1% lower
    * Singapore falls, weak export data cements case for rate

    By Devika Syamnath
    June 17 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets settled
lower on Monday as investors exercised caution ahead of key
central bank policy meetings later this week, while political
ructions in the Middle East and Hong Kong stifled risk appetite
across the region.
    Investors would look for clues on global policy narrative
from the U.S. Federal Reserve, the Bank Of Japan and the Bank of
England meetings this week, as the case for easy money
strengthens against the backdrop of slowing global growth amid a
prolonged U.S.-China trade dispute.
    While most are expecting a U.S. Fed rate cut in July, "we
are looking at September because the U.S. economy is actually
not too bad," said Joanne Goh, an equity strategist with DBS
Bank Ltd.
    Recent strength in U.S. retail sales numbers undermined the
urgency for a rate cut and the Fed is seen leaving borrowing
costs unchanged this week, though possibly laying the groundwork
for a rate cut later this year.
    Fanning wider tensions, massive protests continued in Hong
Kong, calling for Beijing-backed leader Carrie Lam to step down
over an extradition bill. Tensions spiked in the Middle East
after the United States blamed Iran for attacks on two oil
tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week.
    The Philippine index closed over 1% lower. The
benchmark clocked its fourth straight weekly gain on Friday.
Conglomerate JG Summit Holdings was the top loser, down
    "(Philippines) had a strong move above 8,000 in the last two
weeks... some profit taking is going on," said Goh. 
    With domestic demand and strong GDP growth above 6%, you
would think its quite resilient but with slowing growth and
unresolved U.S.-China trade war, it remains to be seen if
Philippines can be that resilient in terms of economic growth,
Goh added. 
    The Singapore benchmark finished 0.4% lower, with 
industrials Jardine Matheson Holdings and Jardine
Strategic Holdings leading declines. The stocks lost
3.2% and 2.4%, respectively. 
    Singapore's weak export data released on Monday prompted
economists to raise bets on the prospect of monetary easing
later this year.
    Indonesia's index closed down 1%, with telecom
stocks and consumer staples claiming most losses. Telekomunikasi
Indonesia (Persero) was the biggest weight on the main
index, down 2.3%.
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 Change on the day                                
 Market                 Current   Previous close  Pct Move
 Singapore              3207.99   3222.63         -0.45
 Bangkok                1667.23   1672.33         -0.30
 Manila                 7908.99   7990.2          -1.02
 Jakarta                6190.525  6250.265        -0.96
 Kuala Lumpur           1638.4    1638.63         -0.01
 Ho Chi Minh            946.95    953.61          -0.70
 Change so far in 2019                            
 Market                 Current   End 2018        Pct Move
 Singapore              3207.99   3068.76         4.54
 Bangkok                1667.23   1563.88         6.61
 Manila                 7908.99   7,466.02        5.93
 Jakarta                6190.525  6,194.50        -0.06
 Kuala Lumpur           1638.4    1690.58         -3.09
 Ho Chi Minh            946.95    892.54          6.10

 (Reporting by Devika Syamnath; Editing by Rashmi Aich)
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