SE Asian stocks flat to weaker on Fed’s hawkish stance

Reuters Bangkok | Updated on January 24, 2018

Southeast Asian stock markets were mostly flat to weaker on Thursday as investors cashed in on recent gainers such as banks in Singapore and Thailand after the US Federal Reserve’s dovish statement on rates, but short-covering lifted the recently battered Philippine shares.

Singapore’s key Straits Times Index traded down 0.7 per cent, nearly erasing the 0.8 per cent rise on Wednesday.

The Thai benchmark SET index eased 0.4 per cent, giving up some of an almost 1 per cent gain over the past two trading days.

Among actively-traded shares, Singapore’s DBS Group Holdings declined 1.1 per cent, Thaiand’s Krung Thai Bank shed 0.6 per cent and Bangkok Bank was down 0.3 per cent, which were all up on Wednesday.

Bangkok-based broker Maybank Kim Eng Securities said it expected the outcome of the Fed’s monetary commitee meeting to have neutral impact on Asian markets. It said end-month portfolio buying could lend support to Thai shares in the near term.

The SET index is likely to move in a range of 1,510 to 1,525, Maybank said. It was at 1,508.97 at midday.

“The trading volume should increase to 40 billion baht soon when the SET can stand above the 1,520 level, which is possible due to the window dressing at the end of the month,’’ Maybank said in a report.

An index of Asian shares rose after the Fed signalled that interest rates would rise more slowly than the markets expect.

Most Southeast Asian stock markets have already turned negative for the year, led by Indonesia’s year-to-date loss of 5.3 per cent, partly a reflection of the Fed rate hike expectations.

The Philippines, one of the region’s outperformers, has fallen more than 6 per cent from a closing high of 8,127.48 in early April. It was up 0.7 per cent on the day, with 21 out of 30 large caps measured by the index trading higher.

In Jakarta, banking shares were mixed ahead of the central bank’s interest rate decision due later in the day. Bank Indonesia is widely expected to keep its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 7.5 per cent.

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Published on June 18, 2015
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