Muted as U.S. rate hike prospects weigh

Muted as U.S. rate hike prospects weigh
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(March 7): Southeast Asian stock markets were subdued in lacklustre trade on Tuesday, as investors prepped up for a likely interest rate increase by the U.S. Federal Reserve next week.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen has signalled that the central bank might raise interest rates at its next meeting on March 14-15, and may move faster after that than it has in years.

"After Janet Yellen's speech last week, the market will be ready for a rate hike, when the U.S. Federal Reserve meets next week unless this Friday's jobs report is a disaster," Net Research Asia, a Singapore-based equity research house, said in note.

The U.S. monthly jobs report on Friday includes non-farm payrolls, seen rising by 190,000 in a Reuters poll.         

In the Philippines, the key index was largely unchanged, as gains in financials and utilities were offset by losses in industrials and consumer stocks. 

BDO Unibank Inc gained 3%, while conglomerate LT Group Inc lost 7.3%.

"Yesterday they (the Philippine central bank) announced no rate hike. I think it brought back confidence in the market," said Mikey Macainag, an analyst with Manila-based Sunsecurities Inc.

The Philippines' central bank governor said on Tuesday that the banking regulator saw no reason to change its monetary policy stance, even after inflation picked up to its fastest pace in 27 months in February.

Consumer prices rose 3.3%, but was within the range the central bank had expected, the statistics agency said.

"The Philippine inflation data has minimal impact...Everything is still looking for the interest rate hike in the U.S.," Macainag said.

Singapore stocks rebounded after two sessions of losses, led by industrials. Automotive conglomerate Jardine Matheson Holdings Ltd climbed 0.6%.

Thailand dropped 0.1%, on track for its third day of losses, led by consumer and telecom stocks. Charoen Pokphand Foods PCL was down 0.9%.

Indonesia was down 0.2%, while Malaysia and Vietnam were flat.

Asian shares rose, with MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan up almost 0.5%, after pulling back slightly in early trade.


Change at 0428 GMT

Market Current Previous Close Pct Move
Singapore 3126.26 3121.51 0.15
Bangkok 1552.27 1553.61 -0.10
Manila 7311.03 7313.87 -0.04
Jakarta 5398.933 5409.817 -0.20
Kuala Lumpur 1728.53 1727.36 0.07
Ho Chi Minh 716.05 716.29 -0.03

Change on year

Market Current End 2016 Pct Move
Singapore 3126.26 2880.76 8.52
Bangkok 1552.27 1542.94 0.60
Manila 7311.03 6840.64 6.9
Jakarta 5398.933 5296.711 1.93
Kuala Lumpur 1728.53 1641.73 5.29
Ho Chi Minh 716.05 664.87 7.7