Most SE Asian stocks end firmer on China stimulus hopes

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BENGALURU (April 9): Most Southeast Asian stocks closed higher on Tuesday, in line with mainland markets, after Beijing unleashed fresh measures to boost economic growth, while a surge in oil prices drove Thai shares to a near six-week closing high.

China will relax residency curbs in many of its smaller cities this year and increase infrastructure spending, the state planner said, in a fresh push to boost the urban population and revive slowing economic growth.

Leading the gains, Indonesian stocks recouped losses from the previous session to end 0.9% higher, ahead of the presidential elections on April 17.

Most opinion polls give the incumbent, President Joko Widodo, a double-digit lead over his rival, former military general Prabowo Subianto.

"President Jokowi looks set for a second term and another majority in the new parliament, which should be positive for markets and the IDR (Indonesian rupiah)," a note from Maybank said. "His re-election signals policy continuity and will calm fears of any policy disruption," the note said.

Consumer stocks boosted the index, with shares of Astra International Tbk Pt and Unilever Indonesia Tbk Pt closing up 2% and 1.7%, respectively.

Oil prices were near five-month highs on Tuesday as markets continued to tighten amid OPEC-led supply cuts, US sanctions against Iran and Venezuela, and escalating violence in Libya.

Bolstered by gains in energy shares, Thai stocks closed at a near six-week high. PTT Exploration and Production Pcl and PTT Pcl gained 3.1% and 0.5%, respectively.

Separately, investors exercised caution ahead of the release of the minutes to US Federal Reserve's previous policy meeting and as they also awaited further clarity on the Sino-US trade talks.

A top White House official said on Monday that US officials are "not satisfied yet" about all the issues standing in the way of a deal to end the US-China trade war but made progress in talks with China last week.

Meanwhile, Vietnam stocks snapped three consecutive sessions of gains to slump nearly 1%. Real estate and consumer stocks dragged the index lower, with Vingroup JSC closing 2.2% lower and Vietnam Dairy Products JSC down 1.3%.   

Philippine markets were closed for a holiday.

SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS
Change on the day

Market                 Current   Previous close  % move
Singapore              3325.6    3315.42         0.31
Bangkok                1657.74   1646.18         0.70
Jakarta                6484.348  6425.734        0.91
Kuala Lumpur           1641.94   1644.35         -0.15
Ho Chi Minh            988.48    997.56          -0.91

Change so far in 2019

Market                 Current   End 2018        % move
Singapore              3325.6    3068.76         8.37
Bangkok                1657.74   1563.88         6.00
Jakarta                6484.348  6,194.50        4.68
Kuala Lumpur           1641.94   1690.58         -2.88
Ho Chi Minh            988.48    892.54          10.75