Most SE Asian stocks fall ahead of China trade data; Singapore up

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BENGALURU (April 11): Most Southeast Asian stock markets edged lower on Thursday as investors exercised caution amid a tariff spat between the United States and the European Union, and ahead of China trade data on Friday.  

"Investors will likely stay defensive and monitor geopolitical developments ahead of China trade data later in the week," ING said in a note.

China's exports are 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, a Reuters poll showed.    

Investors remained wary as US President Donald Trump has threatened new tariffs on goods from the European Union even as the Sino-US trade dispute remains unresolved.

Indonesian shares slipped amid political uncertainty ahead of the presidential elections on April 17.  

Consumer and financial stocks led the decline with Astra International Tbk PT down 1.6%, while Bank Negara Indonesia (Persero) Tbk PT lost 1.8%.

Philippine shares fell 0.3% and were headed for their first session of decline in four, after data showed a drop in the country's February exports.

Exports slid 0.9% from a year earlier, while imports rose 2.6%.

Malaysian stocks declined 0.7%, hurt by a 3% fall in state utility firm Tenaga Nasional Bhd.

Malaysian state-owned investment firm Khazanah Nasional has 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.      

Investors now await February industrial output data expected later in the day for cues about the local economy.

Meanwhile, Singapore shares gained on telecom stocks.

Singapore Telecommunications Ltd rose as much as 2.3% to a more than five-month high. The Economic Times reported Singapore Telecommunications, Bharti Airtel Ltd and Warburg Pincus were in talks to buy the near-61% stake of Zee founder Subhash Chandra's family in Dish TV, to be followed by an open offer for 26% more.

SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS As at 0350 GMT
Change on the day

Market                 Current  Previous close  % move
Singapore              3336.63  3327.65         0.27
Bangkok                1660.75  1662.13         -0.08
Manila                 7981.1   8008.53         -0.34
Jakarta                6439.43  6478.326        -0.60
Kuala Lumpur           1628.5   1639.46         -0.67
Ho Chi Minh            981.87   981.91          0.00

Change so far in 2019

Market                 Current  End 2018        % move
Singapore              3336.63  3068.76         8.73
Bangkok                1660.75  1563.88         6.19
Manila                 7981.1   7,466.02        6.90
Jakarta                6439.43  6,194.50        3.95
Kuala Lumpur           1628.5   1690.58         -3.67
Ho Chi Minh            981.87   892.54          10.01