SE Asian stocks muted; eyes on trade talks, US job data

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BENGALURU (April 5): Southeast Asian stock markets were rangebound on Friday as mixed reports about progress on a trade deal between Washington and Beijing left investors cautious about taking on more risk.

US President Donald Trump on Thursday said the United States and China were close to a trade deal that could be announced within four weeks, while warning Beijing that it would be difficult to allow trade to continue without a pact.

Also under the investor radar is the US payrolls report, which is forecast to rebound to 180,000 in March, following February's distorted 20,000 rise, which points to stronger labour market strength amid concerns of economic risks.

Philippine stocks rebounded from previous session's losses to end higher, with gains concentrated in the financial sector. For the week, however, the index posted a 0.6% fall.

Philippine inflation eased in March to its slowest annual pace in 15 months on easing food prices. It compounded signs that the central bank could take advantage of the cooling inflation to reverse some of last year's policy tightening to support 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," economists Mustafa Ali and Sanjay Mathur said in an ANZ report.

Ayala Corp and Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co picked up 1.8% and 1.1%, respectively.

The Singapore benchmark index closed higher, boosted by gains in financials. Top lenders extended their strength with DBS Group Holdings Ltd, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation Ltd, and United Overseas Bank Ltd climbing between 0.4% and 0.7%.

The index posted a 3.4% gain for the week, its highest weekly gain in 12.

Financials and energy shares dragged the Indonesian index 0.3% lower; but it closed 0.1% firmer on the week. Bank Central Asia Tbk Pt slid 0.7%, while Bank Mandiri Tbk Pt dropped 1.6%.

Malaysian stocks snapped a three-session winning streak to close 0.2% weaker. Telecom stocks dragged the index lower with Maxis Bhd dropping 2%.   

Change on the day

Market                 Current   Previous close  % move
Singapore              3322.64   3316.21         0.19
Bangkok                1646.18   1644.22         0.12
Manila                 7873.18   7854.13         0.24
Jakarta                6474.018  6494.63         -0.32
Kuala Lumpur           1641.81   1645.07         -0.20
Ho Chi Minh            989.26    986.91          0.24

Change so far in 2019

Market                 Current   End 2018        % move
Singapore              3322.64   3068.76         8.27
Bangkok                1646.18   1563.88         5.26
Manila                 7873.18   7,466.02        5.45
Jakarta                6474.018  6,194.50        4.51
Kuala Lumpur           1641.81   1690.58         -2.88
Ho Chi Minh            989.26    892.54          10.84