SE Asian stocks fall as stronger US dollar weighs on markets ahead of Yellen testimony

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(Feb 14): Southeast Asian stock markets fell on Tuesday as a stronger US dollar weighed on sentiment while investors awaited the congressional testimony by US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen for clues on the pace of interest rate hikes.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against six other currencies, was flat near a three-week high hit on Monday.

"The uptick in the (US) dollar yesterday is acting negatively for regional markets," said Mikey Macainag, an analyst with Manila-based Sunsecurities Inc.

Yellen will present the US central bank's semi-annual report on monetary policy and the economy in testimony to the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, followed by the semi-annual monetary testimony before the House Financial Committee on Wednesday.

Singapore shares fell as much as 1.2% in their biggest percentage loss in three months, dragged down by financials. They had hit an 18-month top in the previous session.

Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp Ltd posted its biggest intraday percentage drop in more than six months, shedding up to 3.2%, after the city-state's second-biggest lender reported an 18% slump in its fourth-quarter profit on bad debt charges.

Top lender DBS Group Holdings Ltd, which is expected to report earnings later in the week, fell as much as 2.9%, its biggest percentage fall since July 29, 2016.

Exposure to the stressed oil services sector and slowing loan growth due to slack regional trade are clouding prospects for the country's lenders.

Philippine shares slumped 1% after the previous session's gains, hurt by falls in industrial and real estate stocks.  

"It is also time for a correction... Yesterday we tried to test the 7,300 level which we think is the resistance for now," Macainag said.

Property developer SM Prime Holdings Inc declined as much as 2.3%. International Container Terminal Services Inc fell up to 4.8% to its lowest in nearly four weeks after the company said an agreement to operate a port in Brunei would not be renewed.

SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS
Change at 0440 GMT

Market             Current    Prev close  % move
Singapore          3078.84    3111.63     -1.05
Bangkok            1580.87    1585.24     -0.28
Manila             7229.85    7294.67     -0.89
Jakarta            5397.858   5409.556    -0.22
Kuala Lumpur       1707.16    1710.24     -0.18
Ho Chi Minh        705.81     705.9       -0.01

Change this year

Market             Current    End 2016    % move
Singapore          3078.84    2880.76     6.88
Bangkok            1580.87    1542.94     2.46
Manila             7229.85    6840.64     5.69
Jakarta            5397.858   5296.711    1.91
Kuala Lumpur       1707.16    1641.73     3.99
Ho Chi Minh        705.81     664.87      6.16