Most SE Asian stocks fall ahead of China industrial data; risk sentiment weakens

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BENGALURU (March 13): Most Southeast Asian stock markets were subdued on Wednesday, with Singapore taking the biggest hit, as investors remained cautious ahead of key industrial output data from China, amid plummeting risk appetite across broader Asia.

Further dampening the global sentiment, British lawmakers rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's amended Brexit deal which had provided short-lived cheer in the previous session, putting the fate of the world's fifth largest economy on the line.

Investors in the region turned cautious ahead of Southeast Asia's largest trading partner China's January-February combined industrial output and retail sales data due on Thursday.

Recent gloomy data from the economic giant has cast gloomy spells on markets, sparking doubts about global growth and economic outlook amid a damaging Sino-US trade war.

Losing most among regional stocks, Singapore's index slipped 0.8% after a strong performance in the previous session.

"In the end, you still go back to fundamentals, and that is slowing trade and slowing economies. Expectations are not at a high level for Chinese data... I think there's some cautiousness ahead of that," said Joel Ng, an analyst at KGI Securities.

He also added that the drop could also be in part, due to the jump of the index in the previous session, prompting some profit taking among investors as they look towards more defensive plays amid prospects of slowing Chinese demand.

Shares of lender DBS Group Holdings Ltd, down 1.2% and real estate company City Developments Ltd, about 0.8% lower, were among the top drags on the index.

Investors appeared to stay on the sidelines, as indexes in Thailand, Indonesia and Philippines were little changed, edging marginally lower.

In Philippines, conglomerate SM Investments Corp slipped 1.6% to largely drag the index, offsetting gains among real estate company SM Prime Holdings Inc and food and beverage producer Universal Robina Corp.

Meanwhile, Vietnam's index rose 0.5% as real estate and financials boosted its benchmark. Vingroup JSC rose 0.7% while Vincom Retail JSC gained 2.5%.

Change on the day

Market                 Current   Previous close  % move
Singapore              3187.79   3212.25         -0.76
Bangkok                1626.61   1627.59         -0.06
Manila                 7743.22   7747.54         -0.06
Jakarta                6352.349  6353.774        -0.02
Kuala Lumpur           1674.35   1671.28         0.18
Ho Chi Minh            1006.75   1001.32         0.54

Change so far in 2019

Market                 Current   End 2018        % move
Singapore              3187.79   3068.76         3.88
Bangkok                1626.61   1563.88         4.01
Manila                 7743.22   7,466.02        3.71
Jakarta                6352.349  6,194.50        2.55
Kuala Lumpur           1674.35   1690.58         -0.96
Ho Chi Minh            1006.75   892.54          12.80