SE Asian stocks end higher as Trump comment lifts hopes on trade talks with China

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BENGALURU (Dec 12): Southeast Asian stock markets ended higher on Wednesday, as optimism swept across broader Asia after upbeat comments from US President Donald Trump on reaching a trade deal with China allayed trade conflict worries between Washington and Beijing.

Trump in an interview to Reuters said talks were taking place with Beijing by phone and he would not raise tariffs on Chinese imports until he was sure about a deal.

Sentiment improved after Trump added that he would intervene in the Justice Department's case against the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies.

Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, was granted bail by a Canadian court on Tuesday, 10 days after her arrest in Vancouver. The arrest had turned out to be another hurdle to the resolution of a Sino-US trade war.   

This boosted MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan, which rose 0.15% after hitting a nearly three-week low on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, data from central banks and bond market associations showed that overseas investors were net buyers of Asian bonds in November as concerns over Sino-US trade war and higher US yields abated, bolstering capital inflows into the region.

Shares in Singapore — biggest gainer in the region — closed 1.3% higher, snapping their sixth straight sessions of declines.

However, economists have downgraded the outlook for the city state's 2019 growth rate for the second time in three months, a quarterly poll released by its central bank showed.

In Malaysia, the benchmark index posted its first day of gains after a six-session losing streak. The country's factory production index rose 4.2% in October from a year earlier.

The Philippine index recovered to trade higher along with its peers in the region.

Shares of real estate conglomerate SM Investments Corp added 2.7%, while those of Aboitiz Equity Ventures hit a more than one-week high.

Vietnam shares propped up on the back of financial stocks, with Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Viet Nam and Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam leading the gains.

Change on day

Market              Current     Previous close   % move
Singapore           3099.99     3059.28          1.33
Bangkok             1634.88     1633.62          0.08
Manila              7488.24     7451.08          0.50
Jakarta             6115.577    6076.587         0.64
Kuala Lumpur        1663.27     1652.63          0.64
Ho Chi Minh         961.28      954.58           0.70

Change on year

Market              Current     End 2017         % move
Singapore           3099.99     3402.92          -8.90
Bangkok             1634.88     1753.71          -6.78
Manila              7488.24     8558.42          -12.50
Jakarta             6115.577    6355.654         -3.78
Kuala Lumpur        1663.27     1796.81          -7.43
Ho Chi Minh         961.28      984.24           -2.33