SE Asian stocks sluggish on lack of global cues; Vietnam, Indonesia up

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(Feb 21): Southeast Asian stock markets, except Vietnam and Indonesia, were tepid on Tuesday tracking Asian markets which were steady on a lack of global cues, with US markets closed for the Presidents Day holiday on Monday.

Asian stocks held below 19-month peaks hit last week though Chinese equities surged to a fresh two-month high as domestic funds piled into financial counters on expectations the world's second biggest economy may have turned a corner.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.1% as of 0505 GMT.

Singapore's FTSE Straits Times Index was down as much as 0.3%, pulled lower by financials and consumer staples.

DBS Group and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation lost 0.5% and 0.3%, respectively.

Golden Agri-Resources Ltd, the biggest loser on the index, fell to a nearly five-week low.  

"We see the market being weighed down by lower bank prices. Banks had a huge rally and I think we are seeing a little profit-taking down there," said Nicholas Teo, trading strategist at KGI Securities (Singapore) Pte Ltd.

"(Financials) have rallied the most in the last two-three months and for that to continue to move up, something special needed to happen and that didn't come; so the market is waiting for a catalyst."

Philippine shares slipped as much as 0.3%, with financial and industrial stocks leading the losers.

"We have been trading sideways and there is no direction. Investors are waiting for either a catalyst or a Black Swan event for a significant move up or down," said Victor Felix, equity analyst at Manila-based AB Capital Securities.

BDO Unibank fell as much as 2.1%, its biggest intraday percentage fall in almost three weeks.

Ayala Corp fell 0.6%, while property and retail services business SM Investments Corp dropped 0.4%.

The Thai index was off 0.2%, while Malaysian shares fell marginally hurt by consumer staples and basic material stocks.

Bucking the trend, the Vietnam index rose 0.6%, its biggest intraday percentage gain in more than four weeks, while Indonesia edged up 0.2%.

SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS
Change at 0446 GMT

Market          Current       Previous close  % move
Singapore       3092.94       3096.69         -0.12
Bangkok         1574.81       1578.47         -0.23
Manila          7261.99       7281.19         -0.26
Jakarta         5368.845      5359.288        0.18
Kuala Lumpur    1708.6        1712.58         -0.23
Ho Chi Minh     714.88        710.59          0.60

Change on year

Market          Current       End 2016        % move
Singapore       3092.94       2880.76         7.37
Bangkok         1574.81       1542.94         2.07
Manila          7261.99       6840.64         6.16
Jakarta         5368.845      5296.711        1.36
Kuala Lumpur    1708.6        1641.73         4.07
Ho Chi Minh     714.88        664.87          7.52