Most SE Asian markets tepid with US-China trade deal in focus

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(Jan 13): Most Southeast Asian stock markets were muted on Monday, as investors awaited the planned signing of the Sino-US Phase 1 trade deal this week, while Thai shares rose after the country's government passed a draft budget bill to prop up the economy.

China's Vice Premier Liu He will visit Washington this week to sign the trade deal. But the two nations have not yet finalised what, exactly, will be signed, the White House said on Friday, adding that the translation of the deal was still not complete.

However, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox Business Network that the signing was "all on schedule."

"People are looking at the details of the deal. There will be some caution before the deal, possibly profit-taking after its signing, and given that it is ahead of the Chinese New Year long holiday, people will be less willing to take on big positions until the end of the month," Joel Ng, analyst at KGI Securities said.

In Southeast Asia, Thai stocks were on track to rise for a third consecutive session, gaining as much as 0.5% in early trade.

The country's parliament on Saturday passed the draft budget bill for the 2020 fiscal year aimed at boosting Southeast Asia's second-largest economy, which is growing at its slowest pace in years.

The proposed budget foresees a 7% rise in overall spending for the fiscal year that began on Oct 1.

Utilities and real estate firms were among the top performers, with Gulf Energy Development and Central Pattana Pcl adding 2.8% and 0.8%, respectively.

Indonesian shares rose up to 0.4%, and were on track to post a third straight positive session.

Energy and communication sectors kept the index afloat, with mining contractor United Tractors rising 4% and state-owned Telekomunikasi Indonesia gaining 0.8%.

An index of Jakarta's 45 most liquid stocks was up as much as 0.5%.

Singapore's benchmark index were largely unchanged, while Malaysian shares edged lower.

The Philippine stock exchange suspended trading after a volcano near the capital spewed massive cloud of ash, and authorities warned of a possible "explosive eruption".