SE Asian stocks end firmer; Malaysia hits over 3-month closing high

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BENGALURU (Aug 27): Southeast Asian stock markets ended higher on Monday, in line with broader Asian peers, as risk sentiment improved following US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's comments on gradual interest rate hikes.

Powell said gradual rate hikes were the best way to protect the US economy and signalled more hikes were coming despite President Donald Trump's criticism of higher borrowing costs.

"Powell's comments, somewhat, supported risk sentiment, as the Fed is unlikely to tighten faster than planned despite inflation moving up to near 2%," Mizuho Bank said.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 1.2%.

Boosted by materials and telecommunication sectors, the Indonesian bourse marked its highest close in more than two weeks.

Telekomunikasi Indonesia closed over 5% firmer, while diversified conglomerate Astra International added 2.7% to the benchmark.

An index of the country's 45 most liquid stocks was up 1.4%.

Thai shares ended at their highest in nearly three weeks, with oil and gas producer PTT closing 0.5% higher, while Bank of Ayudhya finished 2.5% firmer.

Thailand is set to release manufacturing data for July on Tuesday. Annual manufacturing output in July is expected to have risen at a slightly slower pace than in the previous month, a Reuters poll showed.

Singapore shares closed higher, led by financials and industrials. Shares of Jardine Matheson Holdings and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp ended around 1% firmer.

Malaysian shares edged higher to a three-month closing high, buoyed by financials and materials.

Malayan Banking and Petronas Chemicals Group ended up 1.22% and 1.4%, respectively.

Philippine financial markets were closed for a holiday.

Change on the day

Market             Current   Previous close  % move
Singapore          3225.62   3213            0.39
Bangkok            1717.24   1703.82         0.79
Jakarta            6025.968  5968.75         0.96
Kuala Lumpur       1811.6    1808.59         0.17
Ho Chi Minh        991.92    987.05          0.49

Change on year

Market             Current   End 2017        % move
Singapore          3225.62   3402.92         -5.21
Bangkok            1717.24   1753.71         -2.08
Jakarta            6025.968  6355.654        -5.19
Kuala Lumpur       1811.6    1796.81         0.82
Ho Chi Minh        991.92    984.24          0.78