Most SE Asian stocks rise on upbeat China growth data; Malaysia falls

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BENGALURU (April 17): Most Southeast Asian stock markets rose on Wednesday after China reported better-than-expected economic growth, fuelling hopes of a recovery in its economy amid concerns of a global growth slowdown.

China's economy grew 6.4% in the first quarter from a year earlier, official data showed on Wednesday — steady from the previous quarter — helped by sharply higher factory production.

"While China may not be able to avert a slowdown amid global demand downturn coinciding with the tech-cycle pullback, it is not doomed for a slump; given domestic demand buffered by coordinated monetary and fiscal easing," Vishnu Varathan, senior economist at Mizuho Bank said in a note.

Singapore stocks led gains in the region, helped by financial stocks and gains in counters of Keppel Corporation Ltd.

Shares of Keppel Corp rose as much as 3.2% to its highest level since Oct 12, 2018. The company's units received final approval for conversion of Gimi Floating Liquefaction Vessel project, a contract worth US$947 million.

Separately, Singapore's on-year non-oil domestic exports (NODX) growth fell more than expected in March, dented by a plunge in electronic and pharmaceutical shipments, official data showed on Wednesday.

Thai stocks reopened after a two-day holiday to rise 0.3%, and was set to snap two sessions of losses, led by consumer and healthcare stocks.

Financial stocks also boosted the Philippine benchmark index to rise 0.4%, with BDO Unibank Inc and Ayala Corp rising 1.5% and 1.3%, respectively.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian bourse fell 0.6% to its lowest level in over two years.

FTSE Russell placed Malaysia's market accessibility level in its World Government Bond Index under a review considering a downgrade from the current level of 2 (highest level of accessibility) to 1 at the end of the review period in September.

The downgrade may make the Malaysian local government ineligible for the index that helps with exposure to wider global investors.

The risk of possible outflows from the country, if it were to be removed from the index, dampened investor sentiment.

Losses on the index were broad-based with state utility firm Tenaga Nasional Bhd and top lender Malayan Banking Bhd being the top percentage losers.

Indonesian stock market was closed on account of Presidential elections.

Change on the day

Market                 Current  Previous close  % move
Singapore              3345.69  3332.04         0.41
Bangkok                1665.86  1660.45         0.33
Manila                 7855.56  7826.46         0.37
Kuala Lumpur           1619.98  1629.46         -0.58
Ho Chi Minh            976.96   977.17          -0.02

Change so far in 2019

Market                 Current  End 2018        % move
Singapore              3345.69  3068.76         9.02
Bangkok                1665.86  1563.88         6.52
Manila                 7855.56  7,466.02        5.22
Kuala Lumpur           1619.98  1690.58         -4.18
Ho Chi Minh            976.96   892.54          9.46