SE Asian stocks rise on trade optimism, Philippines hits 9½-month closing high

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BENGALURU (Jan 18): Southeast Asian stock markets rose on Friday, with Philippines hitting a nine-and-a-half-month closing high, as a report of progress in Sino-US trade talks raised hopes of a deal to end a months-long bitter tariff war between the world's top two economies.

Philippine shares led the gains in Southeast Asia with a jump of 1.5% ahead of the release of fourth quarter GDP data next week.

"Investors are anticipating positive results or at least within expectations," said Miguel Ong, an analyst with AP Securities, referring to the GDP data.

Industrial and real estate stocks were the biggest contributors with index heavyweights SM Prime Holdings Inc and Jollibee Foods rising further after Wednesday's sharp fall.

SM Investments Corp climbed 2.4%, SM Prime Holdings rose 2.9% and Jollibee Foods gained 3.8%.

For the week, Philippine shares added 1.8% in their third straight weekly gain.

Other Southeast Asian stock markets closed marginally higher, in line with broader Asia following a renewed bout of optimism rising from a Wall Street Journal report that stated US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin discussed lifting some or all tariffs imposed on Chinese imports and suggested offering a tariff rollback during trade discussions scheduled for Jan 30.

However, a Treasury spokesman denied the report, saying the process with China was "nowhere near completion."

Despite the denial, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.55%.

Malaysian shares rose 0.6% on Friday, boosted by gains in material stocks, and 0.5% this week.

Petronas Chemicals Group Bhd rose 2.4%, while Top Glove Corp Bhd climbed 2.8%.

Indonesian shares rose 0.4%, erasing earlier losses following the release of December motorbike sales data.

Index heavyweight Astra International Tbk PT rose 2.4% following an 8.9% annual growth in December motorcycle sales.

Meanwhile, financials also gained with Bank Central Asia Tbk PT hitting a record high.

An index of the country's 45 most liquid stocks rose 0.6%.

For the week, Indonesian shares rose 1.4% in their fourth straight weekly gain.

Change on the day

Market                 Current   Previous close  % move
Singapore              3224.34   3214.44         0.31
Bangkok                1583.77   1580.3          0.22
Manila                 8047.12   7927.2          1.51
Jakarta                6448.156  6423.78         0.38
Kuala Lumpur           1692.22   1682.97         0.55
Ho Chi Minh            902.3     901.89          0.05

Change so far in 2019

Market                 Current   End 2018        % move
Singapore              3224.34   3068.76         5.07
Bangkok                1583.77   1563.88         1.27
Manila                 8047.12   7,466.02        7.78
Jakarta                6448.156  6,194.50        4.09
Kuala Lumpur           1692.22   1690.58         0.10
Ho Chi Minh            902.3     892.54          1.09