SE Asian stocks climb on US Fed Chief's testimony; Vietnam up 2.3%

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BENGALURU (July 18): Southeast Asian stock markets ended higher on Wednesday, with the Philippines closing at an over one-month high and Vietnam gaining over 2%, as a bullish outlook from the US Federal Reserve chairman lifted sentiment in the region.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell expressed an optimistic view about the US economy while softening the impact of global trade risks on the outlook for rate rises.

"Today's market trend is largely being driven by Powell's confirmation of gradually raising interest rates," said Taye Shim, head of research at Jakarta-based Mirae Asset Sekuritas.

"This is exactly what the market was looking for."

Philippine shares climbed nearly 1% to their highest close in more than one month.

Real estate company Ayala Land was up 2.9%, while Ayala Corp gained 2.7%.

Singapore stocks gained marginally, boosted by the real estate sector. CapitaLand Ltd rose 1.3%.

Malaysia shares climbed for an eighth straight session, up 0.9%, to their highest close in over a month.

CIMB Group Holdings was up 3.2%, while telecom company Axiata Group Bhd rose 4%.

Malaysia's annual inflation rate slowed to its lowest in more than three years in June, after the government abolished a goods and services tax.

Thai shares rose, buoyed by gains in the energy sector. PTT Public Co jumped 3.7% and IRPC Public Co was up 4.2%.

The Vietnamese index jumped 2.3% to mark an over two-week closing high. Petrovietnam Gas Joint Stock Corp ended 5.1% higher.

Indonesian shares gained 0.5%, with Bank Central Asia up 2.1% and Telekom Indonesia climbing 1.8%.

The central bank in Southeast Asia's largest economy is expected to take a pause in its monetary tightening cycle on Thursday, a Reuters poll showed.

"Indonesian market is vulnerable to external factors and solution is out of their control, meaning they can only use domestic measures to stabilise the economy. They're using interest rates to minimise the external impact," Shim said.

Change on the day

Market             Current   Previous close  % move
Singapore          3240.5    3239.64         0.03
Bangkok            1635.85   1626.07         0.60
Manila             7451.37   7381.68         0.94
Jakarta            5890.731  5861.508        0.50
Kuala Lumpur       1753.07   1737.28         0.91
Ho Chi Minh        942.39    921.27          2.29

Change on year

Market             Current   End 2017        % move
Singapore          3240.5    3402.92         -4.77
Bangkok            1635.85   1753.71         -6.72
Manila             7451.37   8558.42         -12.94
Jakarta            5890.731  6355.654        -7.32
Kuala Lumpur       1753.07   1796.81         -2.43
Ho Chi Minh        942.39    984.24          -4.25