SE Asian stocks lacklustre as investors bide time ahead of US jobs data

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BENGALURU (April 5): Southeast Asian stock markets trod water on Friday in light trade, as investors kept to the sidelines in the absence of constructive developments on Sino-US trade talks and due to a holiday in China.

US President Donald Trump said on Thursday the United States and China were getting very close to a trade deal that could be announced within four weeks, but he issued a warning to Beijing that, absent a pact, it would be difficult to allow trade to continue.

Chinese President Xi Jinping assured Trump that text of the China-US trade could be finalised soon, in a message conveyed by Chinese Vice Premier Liu He.

"Early morning, positive risk sentiments were given a slight boost by President Xi's upbeat comment on the Sino-US trade front. Nevertheless, the risk rally may be showing some signs of exhaustion, with only nice sound-bites but no concrete developments to chew on," OCBC said in a note.

Investors now wait for the US payrolls report, which is forecast to bounce back in March with a Reuters survey predicting nonfarm payrolls likely increased by 180,000 jobs last month after a meagre 20,000 in February.

Philippine shares edged higher after data showed inflation eased in March to its slowest annual pace in 15 months, supporting views that the central bank would take advantage of cooling price rise to reverse some of last year's policy tightening to aid economic growth.

"Another benign inflation print in April should allow the BSP (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) to cut its Overnight Reverse Repurchase Rate (RRP) by 25bps at its May meeting," ANZ said in a note.

Shares of Ayala Corp and BDO Unibank recovered from the previous session's losses and rose 0.8% each.

Singapore stocks traded higher for a seventh consecutive session and were set to post their fourth straight weekly gain.

Financial stocks were among the top contributors, while Genting Singapore Ltd recovered some of its losses from the previous session.

Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp climbed 0.5%, while Genting Singapore rose 2.1% after Thursday's 9.4% drop.     

Change on the day

Market                 Current   Previous close  % move
Singapore              3323.8    3316.21         0.23
Bangkok                1644.22   1644.22         0.00
Manila                 7877      7854.13         0.29
Jakarta                6492.963  6494.63         -0.03
Kuala Lumpur           1643.28   1645.07         -0.11
Ho Chi Minh            986.88    986.91          0.00

Change so far in 2019

Market                 Current   End 2018        % move
Singapore              3323.8    3068.76         8.31
Bangkok                1644.22   1563.88         5.14
Manila                 7877      7,466.02        5.50
Jakarta                6492.963  6,194.50        4.82
Kuala Lumpur           1643.28   1690.58         -2.80
Ho Chi Minh            986.88    892.54          10.57