Philippines, Thailand end higher; Sino-US talks in focus

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BENGALURU (Aug 22): Philippine stocks closed higher on Wednesday after marking the best session in three weeks earlier in trade, while the Thai index ended firmer, as market focus was largely attuned to tariff talks between the United States and China.

Asian shares ex-Japan were trading 0.2% higher after the benchmark S&P 500 touched a record high in the previous session, buoyed by strong earnings in the consumer sector.

The two-day meeting is the first formal US-China trade talks since US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross met Chinese economic adviser Liu He in Beijing in June. The trade talks were expected to open on Wednesday under the cloud of a prediction by US President Donald Trump that there would be no real progress.

Philippine shares were boosted by real estate stocks with Ayala Land ending 2.1% higher. Property developer SM Prime Holdings, one of the biggest gainers on the bourse, partially confirmed a media article about its three-year expansion plans.

"It's the sentiment due to positive overnight indicators such as (record gains on) the Wall Street and that emerging markets, in general, looked positive," said Fio Dejesus, equity research analyst, RCBC Securities.    

Thai shares recovered from previous session's losses to end higher. Gas explorer PTT Exploration and Production ended 2.6% firmer, while Thai Oil added nearly 3% to the index.

Thailand's customs-cleared annual exports in July grew slightly from the previous month, data from the commerce ministry showed on Wednesday. However, the exports' growth rate fell short of expectations.

The country recorded a trade deficit of US$0.52 billion in July, compared with June's US$1.58 billion surplus, official data showed.

Vietnam shares ended steady on the back of gains in utility and real estate stocks.

Meanwhile, financial markets in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia were closed for holidays.

SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS
Change on the day

Market             Current   Previous close  % move
Bangkok            1698.3    1694.63         0.22
Manila             7632.26   7500.53         1.76
Ho Chi Minh        982.15    979.21          0.30

Change on year

Market             Current   End 2017        % move
Bangkok            1698.3    1753.71         -3.16
Manila             7632.26   8558.42         -10.82
Ho Chi Minh        982.15    984.24          -0.21