Most end lower, Vietnam hits near 2-month high

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(Feb 12): Most Southeast Asia stock markets closed lower on Tuesday, as South China Sea tensions were seen as casting a shadow on U.S.-China trade talk progress, while Vietnam rallied for the second straight session to its highest level in nearly two months.

Washington and Beijing will commence high-level trade talks this week to negotiate an end to their bitter trade dispute. 

Despite positive responses from both sides, the sailing of two U.S. destroyers near the disputed South China Sea, and China's subsequent anger over the move appeared detrimental to negotiations.

The Indonesian index fell the most in the region, closing 1.1% lower in its worst session this year, weakened by a slump in financial and telecom stocks.

The country's biggest bank by market value, Bank Central Asia, shed 0.6%, whereas Telekom Indonesia lost 2.8%.

The Philippine benchmark slipped 0.6%, dragged by consumer and industrial stocks. Meanwhile, the country's trade deficit narrowed in December, as imports tumbled for the first time in a year.

The stock index has outperformed other exchanges in the region so far in 2019, gaining about 7.3%. 

"We are mildly concerned about the surprise pullback in capital goods and raw materials. If this continues, this could show that recent aggressive tightening by the BSP (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) is starting to bite into investment appetite, hampering the nascent investment-driven growth story that we have witnessed of late," ING said in a note.

Meanwhile, Vietnam benchmark rose for the second straight session and ended up 1.2% at its highest level since Dec 17, with real estate and consumer stocks leading the gains.

Property developer Vingroup JSC scaled 4.9%, while Saigon Beer Alcohol Beverage Corp jumped 1.9%.   

Vietnam was also chosen to host this month's summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong Un.

 Change on the day                            
 Market             Current   Previous close  Pct Move
 Singapore          3201.15   3206.27         -0.16
 Bangkok            1642.49   1638            0.27
 Manila             8009.92   8061.54         -0.64
 Jakarta            6426.325  6495.002        -1.06
 Kuala Lumpur       1687.41   1688.56         -0.07
 Ho Chi Minh        937.54    926.1           1.24
 Change on year                               
 Market             Current   End 2018        Pct Move
 Singapore          3201.15   3068.76         4.31
 Bangkok            1642.49   1563.88         5.03
 Manila             8009.92   7466.02         7.29
 Jakarta            6426.325  6194.498        3.74
 Kuala Lumpur       1687.41   1690.58         -0.19
 Ho Chi Minh        937.54    892.54          5.04