Singapore jumps most in over 3½ months on financials

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(Aug 7): Singapore shares jumped the most in more than three-and-a-half months on Tuesday with financials leading the charge, while Philippine stocks fell as data showing mounting inflation strengthened expectations for further policy tightening this week.

Singapore's FTSE Straits Times Index rose 1.7% to its highest close in nearly eight weeks. Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp climbed 4.1% higher, while United Overseas Bank Ltd rose 3.3%.

In the Philippines, the main stock index extended declines into a second session and closed 1.2% lower.

"Markets are reacting to the inflation figure that came at a new height, which basically disappointed investors and raised concerns about an overheating economy," said Lexter Azurin, a senior analyst at AB Capital Securities.

Inflation quickened to 5.7% in July, the fastest rise in more than five years, due to higher food and transport costs. It was higher than the 5.5% median forecast in a Reuters poll, and near the top end of the central bank's 5.1-5.8% estimate for the month.

The central bank, which is meeting on Aug 9, looks certain to raise interest rates for the third time this year, after data showed annual inflation moved further above its 2-4% 2018 target range.

SM Investments Corp dropped 2.1%, while BDO Unibank closed more than 4% lower.

Elsewhere in Southeast Asia, Indonesian shares edged lower with consumer and telecom stocks leading the fall. Unilever Indonesia was the biggest drag with a decline of 2.6%.

Malaysian shares erased early falls to rise 0.6% to their highest close since May 25.

Digi.Com Bhd climbed 4.2%, while aluminium producer Press Metal Bhd was up 4.3%.

Energy stocks helped Thai shares close 0.7% higher. PTT Public Co and PTT Exploration and Production rose 1.5% and 2.2% respectively, as oil prices gained.

SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS
Change on the day

Market             Current  Previous close  % move
Singapore          3340     3285.34         1.66
Bangkok            1707.26  1696.24         0.65
Manila             7725.85  7817.31         -1.17
Jakarta            6091.25  6101.131        -0.16
Kuala Lumpur       1791.09  1779.75         0.64
Ho Chi Minh        956.79   960.23          -0.36

Change on year

Market             Current  End 2017        % move
Singapore          3340     3402.92         -1.85
Bangkok            1707.26  1753.71         -2.65
Manila             7725.85  8558.42         -9.73
Jakarta            6091.25  6355.654        -4.16
Kuala Lumpur       1791.09  1796.81         -0.32
Ho Chi Minh        956.79   984.24          -2.79