Malaysia falls, others trade in tight range

-A +A

(July 18): Malaysian shares fell for the third straight session on Thursday to close at their lowest in a month, while most other Southeast Asian stock markets were subdued as renewed Sino-US trade concerns weighed on risk sentiment in the region.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the trade talks between the United States and China had halted awaiting Washington deciding how much trading leeway it would provide Huawei.

"Mistaking US-China risks for a single-dimensional trade spat led to a miscalculation of far deeper and more disperse multi-dimensional risks," Mizuho Bank said in a note to clients, adding that "direct but hard-to-predict US trade action remains a real and present danger."

The Malaysian index dropped 0.5% and led losses in the region. Index heavyweight Petronas Chemicals Group ended at its lowest level since Dec 26, 2017 and dominated the losses on the benchmark.  

Meanwhile stocks in the trade-sensitive Singapore closed lower, dragged by the real estate sector.

CapitaLand Ltd slipped 1.9%, while Hongkong Land Holdings fell 1.2%.

However, Philippines and Indonesian indexes advanced on bets of dovish action from their central banks.

Financials and telecommunications stocks led gains in the Philippine index.

Macro indicators were pointing at an encouraging second-quarter earnings show, said Miguel Ong, a research analyst with AP Securities, Manila.

Lenders were also benefiting from hopes of loser monetary policy coming from the central bank, Miguel added.

The local daily Philippine Star on Monday had quoted Governor Benjamin Diokno as saying that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas had greater freedom to further ease monetary policy going ahead.

Indonesian shares ticked up, helped by gains in resource and consumer stocks.

Earlier in the day, Indonesia's central bank cut its benchmark rate for the first time in nearly two years and opened the door to further easing to help a slowing economy.

"The move reflects pipeline BI's (Bank of Indonesia's) desire to boost growth and the governor signalled that further easing is in the pipeline," ANZ Research said in a note.  

SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS
Change on the day

Market                 Current   Previous close  % move
Singapore              3361.05   3364.87         -0.11
Bangkok                1723.44   1718.85         0.27
Manila                 8258.05   8233.48         0.30
Jakarta                6403.294  6394.609        0.14
Kuala Lumpur           1648.93   1657.53         -0.52
Ho Chi Minh            976.05    982.57          -0.66

Change so far in 2019

Market                 Current   End 2018        % move
Singapore              3361.05   3068.76         9.52
Bangkok                1723.44   1563.88         10.20
Manila                 8258.05   7,466.02        10.61
Jakarta                6403.294  6,194.50        3.37
Kuala Lumpur           1648.93   1690.58         -2.46
Ho Chi Minh            976.05    892.54          9.36