Higher as Fed minutes ease rate concerns

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BANGKOK (Oct 9): Southeast Asian stock markets rose on Thursday after minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting helped allay concerns of an earlier-than-expected interest rate hike and lifted prospects for fund flows to the region.

Oversold markets such as Malaysia rebounded from an over six-month low hit on Wednesday and Singapore recovered losses from the previous session which sent the Straits Times Index to a near five-month closing low of 3,226.71.

Singapore saw some light bargain hunting in the afternoon session on Wednesday near the 3,220 level, a dealer said.

"With Wall Street's overnight recovery, we expect the buying to sustain this morning, though it will not be euphoric given the pace of recent movements in the equity markets, another downswing would not be unexpected," said Singapore-based NRA Capital in a report.

U.S. stocks soared on Wednesday, with major indexes posting their biggest one-day jumps of 2014 after the Federal Reserve reassured investors that its first interest rate hike would not come until it deemed the economy could withstand it.

Asian shares gained on Thursday, with MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan up 1.3 percent.

In Jakarta, cement stocks were among gainers including shares of Indocement and Semen Indonesia.

Data showed a cement sales growth in September, indicating absorption on government budget, broker Trimegah Securities said in a report.

In Bangkok, investors bought shares seen among beneficiaries of the government's economic stimulus measures, with Krung Thai Bank and BTS Group Holdings leading the pack.

The Stock Exchange of Thailand's (SET) marketing roadshow in New York on Wednesday reflected foreign investor confidence in Thai stock investment, but fresh fund inflows in the near term is unlikely due to the market's high valuation, SET President Kesara Manchusree told reporters.

The SET trades at an earnings multiple of 15.48 times, higher than Singapore's 13.60, Indonesia's 14.80 and Vietnam's 11.85, Thomson Reuters data showed.

Change at 0436 GMT
Market             Current     Prev Close    Pct Move
Singapore          3248.71       3226.71       +0.68
Kuala Lumpur       1829.89       1824.32       +0.31
Bangkok            1553.49       1543.39       +0.65
Jakarta            5006.86       4958.52       +0.98
Manila             7209.24       7185.68       +0.33
Ho Chi Minh         624.96        617.26       +1.25