SE Asian stocks mark time ahead of Trump inauguration

SE Asian stocks mark time ahead of Trump inauguration
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(Jan 20): Most Southeast Asian stock markets marked time on Friday ahead of Donald Trump's inauguration as US president, even though  China posted forecast-beating fourth-quarter economic growth.

Indonesian shares fell as much as 0.7% in their biggest percentage drop since Jan 9, with financials and consumer staples accounting for more than half of the decline.

Bank Central Asia was the biggest negative influence, followed by Unilever Indonesia.

"Trump has not spoken much about his policies, and that has made everyone nervous in the United States," said Harry Su, an analyst with Bahana Securities in Indonesia.

China's fourth-quarter gross domestic product growth came in at 6.8%, versus forecasts of 6.7%, supported by higher government spending and record bank lending.

Investors also took note of US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's speech where she spoke of a gradual pace of rate hikes, as opposed to rapid hikes, to keep inflation low and jobs plentiful and avoid harming the recovery the Fed has sought to nurture.

"I think that allowing the economy to run markedly and persistently 'hot' would be risky and unwise," Yellen said in remarks prepared for delivery to the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slipped 0.2%, and looked set to end the week 0.1% lower.

Philippine shares were down after two consecutive sessions of gains on across-the-board sell off. Food products company Universal Robina Corp was the biggest loser.

Vietnam shares gained 0.5%, led by consumer staples. Vietnam Dairy Products JSC was the top gainer, up 1.75%, followed by Hanoi Beer Alcohol and Beverage Corp.

Thailand was up 0.3% after opening lower, helped by energy shares which rose on the back of stronger oil prices.

Oil climbed for a second day, underpinned by expectations of tighter supply and on reports of record Chinese demand, but prices remained under pressure from rising US crude and gasoline inventories.

Oil majors PTT PCL led the gains in the sector, followed by Thai Oil PCL.

Change at 0426 GMT

Market            Current    Previous close  % move
Singapore         3009.05    3008.22    0.03
Bangkok           1558.84    1554.88    0.25
Manila            7238.08    7246.08    -0.11
Jakarta           5265.747   5298.948   -0.63
Kuala Lumpur      1665.69    1666.51    -0.05
Ho Chi Minh       686.01     682.31     0.54

Change this year

Market            Current    End 2015   % move
Singapore         3009.05    2880.76    4.45
Bangkok           1558.84    1542.94    1.03
Manila            7238.08    6952.08    4.11
Jakarta           5265.747   5296.711   -0.58
Kuala Lumpur      1665.69    1641.73    1.46
Ho Chi Minh       686.01     672.01     2.08