Most SE Asian stocks rise; Malaysia heads for longest winning streak in nearly 3 years

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(July 19): Most Southeast Asian stock markets rose on Thursday, with Malaysia heading for its longest winning streak in nearly three years, as upbeat earnings on Wall Street and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's view that the US economy was healthy boosted investor sentiment.

In his two-day testimony, Powell said nothing about the Fed's two more rate increases this year, but the economy was poised for several more years of growth.

Singapore shares climbed as much as 1.2% to a more than two-week top with financials leading the gains. DBS Group Holdings rose 1.5% and United Overseas Bank Ltd advanced 1.6%.

Malaysian shares advanced for a ninth straight session in what could be their longest winning streak since October 2015. The index has gained 5.4% in the last eight sessions of gains, and 2.3% so far this week.

Malayan Banking Bhd rose 2.6%, while Public Bank Bhd gained 1.3%.

The annual inflation rate slowed to its lowest in more than three years in June, data released on Wednesday showed, after the government abolished a goods and services tax. However, economists said this was unlikely to lead to any change in monetary policy.

"Lower inflation will allow a greater scope for the central bank (Bank Negara Malaysia) to keep the monetary policy stable for a prolonged period, or even ease in the event the global trade war adversely impacts the economy," ING said in a note.

Indonesian shares rose for a second straight session ahead of a central bank policy meeting where it is expected to take a pause in its monetary tightening cycle.

Astra International was the biggest boost with a gain of 1.5%.

Thai shares extended gains into a second session on the back of financials, while Vietnam stocks were little changed.

Meanwhile, Philippine shares declined, dragged by financials and real estate stocks.

The index has been on a rally for the past two weeks, and investors are resorting to profit-taking, said Charles William Ang, associate analyst at COL Financial Group.

Ayala Corp fell 2.5% and SM Prime Holdings declined 1.4%.

SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS AS AT 0417 GMT

Market          Current   Previous close  % move
Singapore       3271.5    3240.5          0.96
Bangkok         1641.04   1635.85         0.32
Manila          7406.42   7451.37         -0.60
Jakarta         5910.012  5890.731        0.33
Kuala Lumpur    1761.13   1753.07         0.46
Ho Chi Minh     942.59    942.39          0.02

Change on year

Market          Current   End 2017        % move
Singapore       3271.5    3402.92         -3.86
Bangkok         1641.04   1753.71         -6.42
Manila          7406.42   8558.42         -13.46
Jakarta         5910.012  6355.654        -7.01
Kuala Lumpur    1761.13   1796.81         -1.99
Ho Chi Minh     942.59    984.24          -4.23