SE Asian stocks largely up; Singapore closes at highest level in 2 yrs

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(July 17): Most Southeast Asian stock markets rose on Monday, with Singapore closing at its highest in nearly two years, as tame inflation and soft domestic demand in the United States hurt prospects of a third interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve.

Fed policymakers are confronted with benign inflation and a tight labour market as they weigh a third rate hike and announcing plans to start reducing the central bank's US$4.2 trillion portfolio of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities.

A tamer Fed bodes well for inflows into Asia as investors usually look to its markets for better yields.

In Southeast Asia, Singapore shares extended gains into a third session on Monday, led by financial and real estate stocks.

DBS Group Holdings closed at its highest in more than 10 years, while Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust ended 1.15% higher.

Philippine shares closed higher after two consecutive sessions of falls with industrial and real estate stocks leading the gains.

Wholesale trader SM Investments Corp closed at its highest in nearly three weeks, while property developer SM Prime Holdings Inc ended 0.76% higher.

"We have our State of the Nation address coming up a week from now, followed by the opening of Congress. Markets usually move higher ahead of the address," said Joseph Roxas, president of Manila-based Eagle Equities Inc.

"We expect the Senate to pass tax reform measures, mainly to lower corporate and individual income taxes."

Vietnam shares fell 1% to close at their lowest in a week, dragged down by financials.

Vietnam Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Industry and Trade fell 2.8% to its lowest close in one-and-a-half months.

Change on the day

Market                    Current      Previous close    % move
Singapore                 3298.24      3287.43     0.33
Bangkok                   1574.09      1577.79     -0.23
Manila                    7934.5       7885.9      0.62
Jakarta                   5841.28      5831.795    0.16
Kuala Lumpur              1755.19      1755        0.01
Ho Chi Minh                768.91       777.6       -1.12

Change so far in 2017

Market                    Current      End prev yr    % move
Singapore                 3298.24      2880.76     14.49
Bangkok                   1574.09      1542.94     2.02
Manila                    7934.5       6840.64     15.99
Jakarta                   5841.28      5296.711    10.28
Kuala Lumpur              1755.19      1641.73     6.91
Ho Chi Minh                768.91       664.87      15.64