Most SE Asian stocks fall on Sino-US trade worries; Vietnam sole gainer

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(Jan 29): Most Southeast Asian stock markets closed lower on Tuesday, with Malaysia leading the decline and Thailand snapping a nine-session winning streak, as concerns heightened about Sino-US trade relations after the United States charged China's Huawei Technologies Co Ltd with fraud.

The US Justice Department charged Huawei and its chief financial officer with conspiring to violate US sanctions on Iran by doing business through a subsidiary it tried to hide and that was reported on by Reuters in 2012 and 2013.

In a separate case, the department charged the telecommunications equipment maker with stealing robotic technology from T-Mobile US Inc. Huawei has said the companies settled their dispute in 2017.   

A further escalation in the US-China trade war will likely trigger an even sharper global economic slowdown this year, economists said in a recent Reuters poll.

Meanwhile, China unveiled a flurry of measures aimed at spurring sales of items ranging from cars and appliances to information services.    

Malaysian shares closed 0.4% lower with investors nervously awaiting the latest round of China-US trade talks which will take place in Washington on Wednesday and Thursday.

Telecom firm Axiata Group Bhd lost 4.4%, while chemical producer Petronas Chemicals Group fell 2%.

Thai shares closed slightly lower, weighed down by energy stocks. Index heavyweights PTT and PTT Exploration and Production declined 1% and 2.5%, respectively.

Investors now await January inflation data due on Friday for clues about the economy. A Reuters poll showed the annual headline inflation rate in January may have slowed from the previous month and stayed below the central bank's target range for a third straight month.

Singapore shares fell 0.7% intraday before recovering slightly to close 0.4% lower. Singapore Airlines Ltd and Keppel Corp fell 1.1% and 0.8%, respectively.

Vietnam shares were the sole gainers in Southeast Asia, recovering from early losses to rise 0.4%. The benchmark stock index closed higher for a fifth straight session.

Financial and real estate stocks were the top gainers, with Vietcombank climbing over 2% and Vinhomes JSC rising more than 1%.

SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS
Change on the day

Market                 Current  Previous close  % move
Singapore              3187.69  3199.5          -0.37
Bangkok                1624.05  1625.03         -0.06
Manila                 8050.82  8053.92         -0.04
Jakarta                6436.48  6458.712        -0.34
Kuala Lumpur           1690.41  1697.5          -0.42
Ho Chi Minh            915.93   912.18          0.41

Change so far in 2019

Market                 Current  End 2018        % move
Singapore              3187.69  3068.76         3.88
Bangkok                1624.05  1563.88         3.85
Manila                 8050.82  7,466.02        7.83
Jakarta                6436.48  6,194.50        3.91
Kuala Lumpur           1690.41  1690.58         -0.01
Ho Chi Minh            915.93   892.54          2.62