SE Asian stocks eke out small gains; Singapore falls

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(Feb 20): Most Southeast Asian stock markets edged up in thin trade on Monday, mirroring mild gains in Asian shares, with investors cautious in the absence of firm triggers ahead of a busy week for US Federal Reserve events.

On the interest rates front, no less than five heads of regional Federal Reserve banks are due to speak this week while Fed Board Governor Jerome Powell appears on Wednesday, when minutes of the last policy meeting are also due.

Separately, in a speech in Singapore on Monday, Cleveland Federal Reserve President Loretta Mester said she would be comfortable raising interest rates at this point if the economy maintained its current pace of performance.

Philippine shares rose 0.5% as investors hunted for bargains, with total volumes at about 73% of their 30-day average.

State-owned PTT Exploration and Production PCL ended 2.2% higher, while Thai Oil PCL was up 1.3%.

Foreign investors net sold 393.8 million pesos (US$7.82 million) worth of shares.

The Philippine peso earlier slipped to its lowest level in over a decade, undermining US dollar-based returns for foreign investors.

In Thailand, the key SET index crept higher, helped by energy and basic materials stocks, which benefited as the US dollar slipped.

The index, which opened about 0.2% higher, quickly lost all gains to trade lower for most of the session after the country's planning agency reported poor economic data for the fourth quarter.

Indonesian shares finished 0.2% higher, led by energy and consumer cyclical stocks.

Automotive business Astra International was up 0.6%, while United Tractors and Adaro Energy added more than 2% each.

Singapore shares however fell 0.4%, with industrials such as Jardine Matheson Holdings dropping 1.7%.

Financial firms DBS Group and United Overseas Bank shed 0.5% and 0.3%, respectively.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.2% as of 1031 GMT.

SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS
Change on day

Market                   Current       Previous close       % move
Singapore                3096.69       3107.65        -0.35
Bangkok                  1578.47       1577.84        0.04
Manila                   7281.19       7244.79        0.50
Jakarta                  5359.288      5350.932       0.16
Kuala Lumpur             1712.58       1707.68        0.29
Ho Chi Minh              710.59        707.83         0.39

Change on year

Market                   Current       End 2016       % move
Singapore                3096.69       2880.76        7.50
Bangkok                  1578.47       1542.94        2.30
Manila                   7281.19       6840.64        6.40
Jakarta                  5359.288      5296.711       1.18
Kuala Lumpur             1712.58       1641.73        4.32
Ho Chi Minh              710.59        664.87         6.90

(US$1 = 50.3780 Philippine pesos)