SE Asian stocks inch higher as softer US dollar supports, Fed rate hike chances dim

SE Asian stocks inch higher as softer US dollar supports, Fed rate hike chances dim
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(Feb 6): Most Southeast Asian stock markets edged higher on Monday, with prospects of a rate hike next month by the US Federal Reserve  dimming as data showed wages barely rose, softening the US dollar and lending support to emerging markets.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 227,000 jobs, the largest gain in four months, the US Labor Department said on Friday, but wages increased by only three cents, suggesting that there was still some slack in the labor market.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, dropped 0.2%.

"Due to aggressive comments by (US President Donald) Trump on currency devaluation of China, Japan and Germany, the value of the US dollar is on a falling trend. A weaker dollar means less pressure on emerging markets going forward," said Taye Shim, head of research at Mirae Asset Sekuritas.   

"Investors are going to take another look at emerging market assets."    

Singapore shares rose 0.5%, helped by financials, with DBS Group Holdings gaining 1.4% and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp up 1%.

Indonesia rose for a fourth straight session, with Bank Mandiri (Persero) and Bank Central Asia up 2.7% and 1.1%, respectively.

Indonesia's annual economic growth in the fourth quarter dipped below 5% again, weaker than expected and a second straight quarter of slowdown, the statistics bureau said on Monday.

Philippines moved up half a percent, led by industrials and real estate.

Real estate conglomerate Ayala Land Inc added 1.3%, while SM Investments Corp gained 0.9%.

Thai shares rose 0.2%, while Malaysia was up 0.2%. Vietnam was slightly lower.

The central banks of Thailand and the Philippines are meeting this week for their first policy meeting of the year.

Asian shares crept ahead on Monday, with MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan up 0.3%, while Japan's Nikkei rose 0.2%.

Change at 0351 GMT

Market          Current      Previous close    % move
Singapore       3055.95      3041.94     0.46
Bangkok         1585.73      1582.95     0.18
Manila          7264.26      7226.7      0.52
Jakarta         5380.919     5360.767    0.38
Kuala Lumpur    1688.33      1685.01     0.20
Ho Chi Minh     699.87       700.35      -0.07

Change this year

Market          Current      End 2016    % move
Singapore       3055.95      2880.76     6.08
Bangkok         1585.73      1542.94     2.77
Manila          7264.26      6840.64     6.19
Jakarta         5380.919     5296.711    1.59
Kuala Lumpur    1688.33      1641.73     2.84
Ho Chi Minh     699.87       664.87      5.2