BENGALURU (March 22): Most Southeast Asian stock markets ended higher on Friday, with Philippines rising to a near six-week closing peak amid expectation of monetary policy easing after the central bank cut its 2019 inflation forecast.
Bangko Sentral Pilipinas (BSP) had adopted a rigorous rate hike cycle last year, between May and November, totalling 175 basis points in a bid to cool inflation rates that had reached a near-decade peak.
"It (inflation forecast cut) is more of an indirect signal that BSP is ready to do some easing of monetary policy soon," said Rachelle C Cruz, an analyst with AP Securities.
The Philippine benchmark stock index closed higher for a third session in a row and posted its highest weekly gain in 11 weeks.
Shares of Universal Robina Corp gained 2.9%, while International Container Terminal Services Inc rose 2.3%.
Thai stocks rose 0.8% to a three-week closing peak, buoyed by market heavyweights Siam Commercial Bank Pcl (SCB) and PTT Exploration and Production Pcl.
Shares of Siam Commercial Bank closed 3.1% higher after the company said it had entered into exclusive talks with Hong Kong-based insurer FWD Group for the sale of its life insurance business, nearly two years after previous talks broke off.
Shares of PTTEP ended 2% higher after the company bought oil and gas assets in Malaysia for US$2.13 billion from Murphy Oil Corp.
For the week, Thai shares gained 1.3%, snapping three weekly falls.
Real estate stocks helped Vietnam snap three straight sessions of losses. Vinhomes JSC and Vingroup JSC rose 3.3% and 1.4%, respectively.
Malaysian stocks closed higher for the first time in four sessions with telecom stocks leading the recovery, but lost 0.8% for the week.
SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS
Change on the day
|Market||Current||Previous close||% move|
|Ho Chi Minh||988.71||981.78||0.71|
Change so far in 2019
|Market||Current||End 2018||% move|
|Ho Chi Minh||988.71||892.54||10.77|