Most rebound in negative week; earnings in focus

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BANGKOK (Oct 17): Most Southeast Asian stock markets edged higher on Friday, with Singapore and Malaysia rebounding after steep declines, while selective buying in banks helped lift Thai and Indonesian indexes.

    
Traders in Singapore expect the market to take some comfort in Wall Street's improved closing after the turbulent falls earlier in the week, but market volatility is likely to remain.
    
The S&P 500 and Nasdaq eked out slight gains on Thursday after another choppy session, as economic data eased fears about the potential effect of a weakening global economy on the United States.
    
"We expect bargain-hunting to be limited as the feeling is the worst is still not yet over and October could still end up to be a very brutal month," broker NRA Capital said in a report.
    
Data released early on Friday showed Singapore's exports in September rose less than expected as sales to Europe contracted and shipments to the United States slowed.
    
Singapore's Straits Times Index was up 0.1 percent after Thursday's drop to the lowest level since late March. United Overseas Bank inched up 0.5 percent, recovering some of the 1.3 percent drop on Thursday.
    
The benchmark is heading for a weekly drop of 2 percent, a fifth straight week of loss amid heightening concerns about the health of the global economy.
    
Malaysia's index gained 0.7 percent, ending five consecutive sessions of declines. It is on track for a fall of almost 2 percent on the week, a second straight week.
    
In Bangkok, Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) gained after reporting a rise in quarterly net profit, faring better than the broader SET index, which was down 0.1 percent and on course for a weekly loss of 1.7 percent.
    
A market-friendly comment from U.S. St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank chief James Bullard overnight was supportive to trading sentiment in emerging Asian markets, broker KGI Securities said.
    
Bullard said the U.S. central bank may want to keep up its bond-buying stimulus for now given a drop in inflation expectations.  
    
Jakarta's composite index was up 0.7 percent, poised for a small rise on the week. Bank Rakyat Indonesia  and Bank Mandiri, among the most actively traded, rose 3.4 percent and 1.8 percent respectively, amid the start of a reporting season of listed banks.
    
The market gained after a Reuters report that Indonesia's President-elect Joko Widodo plans to raise the price of subsidised gasoline and diesel by around 50 percent within two weeks of taking office.
    

SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS
 Change at 0401 GMT
 Market             Current     Prev Close    Pct Move
 Singapore          3158.50       3154.21       +0.14
 Kuala Lumpur       1779.35       1767.77       +0.66
 Bangkok            1524.44       1526.15       -0.11
 Jakarta            4984.48       4951.61       +0.66
 Manila             7031.13       7028.58       +0.04
 Ho Chi Minh         586.43        587.17       -0.13