Most SE Asian stocks end weaker on global growth worries, trade friction

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BENGALURU (April 11): Most Southeast Asian stock markets ended lower on Thursday, with Indonesia leading the declines, as investors weighed warning signs of a slowing global economy amid escalation of trade tensions between the United States and European Union.

Cautious tone of European and US central banks fuelled worries of a slowing global economy with threats of Washington slapping new tariffs on European Union goods further dampening sentiment.

Investors are also eyeing China's March trade data due on Friday, with exports expected to have rebounded in March after a sharp drop in February, while imports likely shrank for a fourth straight month but at a more modest pace, according to a Reuters poll.

Leading the losses in the region, the Indonesian index closed 1.1% lower as political uncertainties multiplied ahead of the April 17 presidential elections.

Consumer and financial stocks dragged the index lower to a near one-month closing low, with Astra International Tbk PT dropping 1.6% and Bank Mandiri (Persero) Tbk PT ending 2.6% weaker.

An index of the country's 45 most liquid stocks declined 1.6%.         

Malaysian equities closed nearly 1% weaker after government data showed that the country's industrial production in February rose at a slower pace compared with January.

Malaysia's industrial production index rose 1.7% in February from a year earlier, in line with the median estimate among 10 economists surveyed by Reuters. However, the pace was slower than January's growth, which came in at 3.2% annually.

"The first two months of activity data underpin our view of slower GDP growth in the first quarter of 2019," Prakash Sakpal, an economist with ING said in a note.

"We have pencilled in a 25-basis point rate cut for the next month to pre-empt any further growth downside in the rest of the year," he added.

Meanwhile, Malaysia's state-owned investment firm Khazanah Nasional raised RM1.05 billion (US$255 million) through the sale of 85 million Tenaga Nasional shares at the bottom of a RM12.33–12.58 range.

Also weighing on sentiment were the major losses in Tenaga Nasional. Shares of the utility firm closed 4.1% weaker at their lowest in more than three-and-a-half years.

Philippine stocks snapped three sessions of gains to close lower, with industrials contributing majority of the losses.

Shares of JG Summit Holdings Inc and Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc declined 4.3% and 2.9%, respectively.

Vietnam stocks closed higher, snapping two sessions of declines with real estate shares boosting the index.     

Change on the day

Market                 Current   Previous close  % move
Singapore              3330.82   3327.65          0.10
Bangkok                1659.09   1662.13         -0.18
Manila                 7955.8    8008.53         -0.66
Jakarta                6410.166  6478.326        -1.05
Kuala Lumpur           1624.23   1639.46         -0.93
Ho Chi Minh            985.95    981.91           0.41

Change so far in 2019

Market                 Current   End 2018        % move
Singapore              3330.82   3068.76         8.54
Bangkok                1659.09   1563.88         6.09
Manila                 7955.8    7,466.02        6.56
Jakarta                6410.166  6,194.50        3.48
Kuala Lumpur           1624.23   1690.58         -3.92
Ho Chi Minh            985.95    892.54          10.47