Most SE Asian stocks rise on China's growth data; Malaysia, Vietnam drop

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BENGALURU (April 17): Most Southeast Asian stock markets closed higher on Wednesday, with Thailand leading gains, after China's steadying first-quarter growth spurred hopes of recovery amid concerns regarding the health of the global economy.

China's economy grew at a steady 6.4% pace in the first quarter, defying expectations for a further slowdown, as industrial production jumped sharply and consumer demand showed signs of improvement.

"Today's data provides further evidence that growth has bottomed. We expect further recovery in activity data in the coming months and see full year growth at 6.6%," said Julia Wang, a Greater China economist at HSBC.

The Thai benchmark led gains in the region with broad-based jump across sectors. Shares of PTT PCL rose 1.6%, while those of Energy Absolute PCL gained 5.5%.

Singapore stocks pared some of its earlier gains to rise 0.5% to its highest close since June 15, backed by financial and consumer stocks.

DBS Group Holdings Ltd gained 1.2%, while Jardine Cycle & Carriage Ltd rose 4.4%.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian bourse fell 0.5% to its lowest close since Dec 27, 2016, after FTSE flagged a possible exclusion of the country from its World Government Bond Index at the end of a review period in September.

The risk of possible outflows from the country, which would follow the exclusion from the index, dampened investor sentiment.

Index heavyweights Malayan Banking Bhd and Tenaga Nasional Bhd dropped 2.3% and 2%, respectively.

The Vietnam index posted its third consecutive loss slipping 0.5%, with real estate stocks dragging the benchmark.

Indonesian stock market was closed on account of Presidential elections.

Early results from Indonesia's election on Wednesday showed President Joko Widodo with a comfortable lead, in line with opinion polls that had predicted the low-key reformist was heading for a second five-year term.

"The incumbent being re-elected will be the most favourable outcome for investors. New policy and measurement from Prabowo Subianto may bring uncertainty in the early stage," said Toby Wu, senior analyst at eToro.

Change on the day

Market                 Current  Previous close  % move
Singapore              3348.64  3332.04         0.50
Bangkok                1673.1   1660.45         0.76
Manila                 7835.15  7826.46         0.11
Kuala Lumpur           1620.9   1629.46         -0.53
Ho Chi Minh            972.1    977.17          -0.52

Change so far in 2019

Market                 Current  End 2018        % move
Singapore              3348.64  3068.76         9.12
Bangkok                1673.1   1563.88         6.98
Manila                 7835.15  7,466.02        4.94
Kuala Lumpur           1620.9   1690.58         -4.12
Ho Chi Minh            972.1    892.54          8.91