Most SE Asian stocks tepid; Singapore hits 3-week high on trade optimism

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BENGALURU (Feb 13): Singapore stocks climbed in line with Asian peers on Wednesday, lifted by the possibility that Washington and Beijing might reach an agreement in trade talks, while other regional markets flitted in a flat-to-lower range after paring early gains.

Ahead of the high-level talks due in Beijing this week, US President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he could let the March 1 deadline "slide for a little while", although he said he was not inclined to doing so.

Trump's comments prompted a rally in Wall Street and Asian markets, most of whom have high trade exposure with China.

Tracking Asian peers, Singapore markets traded 1.1% higher to a three-week peak. Financials were the biggest boost, with lender DBS Group scaling as much as 2%.    

"Taking the cue from Wall Street's overnight gains, STI may see support at 3,200 and resistance at 3,230," OCBC said in a note.

Philippine markets shed early gains to drop about 1%, extending their declines to a fourth session. The index, which has outperformed its peers so far in 2019, experienced some easing after it touched an 11-month high last week.

Industrial and financial stocks dragged the Philippine stock index lower, with conglomerate JG Summit Holdings slipping as much as 3.5%, while Security Bank Corp tumbled up to 3.7%.

Malaysian shares traded flat ahead of the country's fourth-quarter GDP figures release on Thursday.

Telecommunication stocks were the top drag on the country's main index as teleco Axiata Group Bhd skid as much as 1.5%.

Malaysia's economy probably grew faster in the fourth quarter with exports and private consumption helping to snap four quarters of slowing growth, a Reuters poll showed.

However, global trade headwinds are expected to have an adverse impact on Malaysia, which is among the largest exporters of palm oil.

Meanwhile, Thailand shares rose 0.4%, while the Vietnam index traded flat.

Change on the day

Market             Current   Previous close  % move
Singapore          3235.2    3201.15         1.06
Bangkok            1650.1    1642.49         0.46
Manila             7913.71   8009.92         -1.20
Jakarta            6443.138  6426.325        0.26
Kuala Lumpur       1685.98   1687.41         -0.08
Ho Chi Minh        939.56    937.54          0.22

Change on year

Market             Current   End 2018        % move
Singapore          3235.2    3068.76         5.42
Bangkok            1650.1    1563.88         5.51
Manila             7913.71   7466.02         6.00
Jakarta            6443.138  6194.498        4.01
Kuala Lumpur       1685.98   1690.58         -0.27
Ho Chi Minh        939.56    892.54          5.27