(Jan 31): Southeast Asian stocks rose on Thursday, in line with broader Asia, as the US Federal Reserve held interest rates steady while signalling its three-year drive to tighten monetary policy may be at an end.
A dovish Fed helped MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rise 0.7% to its highest since Oct 4.
The Fed kept rates at 2.25% to 2.5% as widely expected, which are well below historical averages.
Meanwhile, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell made it clear that the US central bank would be "patient" before making any further moves in raising borrowing costs.
Investors now focus their attention on a crucial round of trade talks between high-level US-China officials which began on Wednesday aimed at easing a months-long tariff war.
The positive developments helped offset sentiment emanating from bleak Chinese factory data which showed activity contracted for a second straight month in January, pointing to further strains on China's economy that could heighten risks to global growth.
Indonesian shares jumped as much as 0.9% to hit a near 11-month high. The index has gained 5.2% in January, on track for three straight months of gains.
Unilever Indonesia gained as much as 1.7%, while Bank Central Asia climbed as much as 1.1%.
Philippine shares led gains in Southeast Asia, rising over 1%. The benchmark has outperformed regional peers in so far in 2019, gaining 8.4% in January and on track for its biggest monthly gain since March 2016.
BDO Unibank and SM Investment were the top boost, rising as much as 2.5% and 2%, respectively.
Thai shares were up as much as 0.9%, hitting an over 7-week high, with investors awaiting the country's trade data for December due later in the day.
Singapore and Malaysia shares were on track to snap three consecutive days of losses, each rising as much as 0.7%.
Singapore shares were up on broad-based gains, with management services firm ComfortDelGro Corp rising as much as 2.6%, while technology services provider Venture Corp hitting an over 3½-month high.
SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS AS AT 0342 GMT
|Market||Current||Previous close||% move|
|Ho Chi Minh||916.99||915.84||0.13|
Change so far in 2019
|Market||Current||End 2018||% move|
|Ho Chi Minh||916.99||892.54||2.74|