March 6, 2019 / 4:17 AM / 7 months ago

SE Asia Stocks-Most steady as trade uncertainty weighs

    * Indonesia on track to snap two sessions of losses
    * Vietnam in line to extend losses for second session 

    By Shriya Ramakrishnan
    March 6 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stocks were muted
on Wednesday, in line with their broader Asian peers, as
investors awaited details on progress in the U.S.-China trade
    U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a media
interview that U.S. President Donald Trump will reject a trade
deal with China that is not perfect, but the United States would
still keep working on an agreement.
    "Markets right now are on a pause, probably pricing in the
U.S.-China deal. There is a lack of direction and we probably
expect a pullback going into the second quarter of 2019," said
Joel Ng, an analyst at KGI Securities. 
    Vietnam stocks, which have been the top performers in
the region since the turn of the year, edged lower, with most
major sectors in the red.
    Thai index was flat in early trade, as gains in
energy and technology sectors were countered by weakness in
financials and materials stocks.
    Thailand's central bank chief said on Tuesday that while the
country is economically stable and can withstand increased
global volatility, it faces structural challenges, including low
labour productivity, a labour mismatch and low investment.
    It is estimated that the government will have to adopt a
deficit budget for another 12 years, he added.    
    Indonesian stocks, on the other hand, were set to
snap two consecutive sessions of losses, supported by financial
and consumer stocks. 
    PT Bank Central Asia, the country's largest lender
by market value, gained 0.2 percent, while conglomerate Astra
International Tbk PT added 0.7 percent. 
    Philippine stocks led gains in the region, rising 1
percent, boosted by financial and industrial counters. 
    SM Prime Holdings, the country's second-largest
firm by market value, added 1.6 percent, while Bank of the
Philippine Islands rose 2.4 percent.
    Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas' newly-appointed Governor
Benjamin Diokno said on Wednesday that inflation could fall to 2
percent - the bottom of its target range - as early as the third
quarter due to base effects and that he will study accelerating
a cut in the Philippines' reserve requirement ratio.

    "Reports that the new central bank governor will be more
conducive to growth could be interpreted by the market as a
positive development," said Charles William Ang, research
analyst at COL Financial Group.
    Annual inflation rate returned to the central bank's 2-4
percent target in February when it eased to a one-year low of
3.8 percent, but year-to-date inflation of 4.1 percent is still
outside that range.
For Asian Companies click;  

 Market                 Current   Previous close  Pct Move
 Singapore              3232.57   3234.07         -0.05
 Bangkok                1636.7    1639            -0.14
 Manila                 7744.83   7670.62         0.97
 Jakarta                6453.872  6441.28         0.20
 Kuala Lumpur           1687.87   1685.62         0.13
 Ho Chi Minh            990.82    992.45          -0.16
 Change so far in 2019                            
 Market                 Current   End 2018        Pct Move
 Singapore              3232.57   3068.76         5.34
 Bangkok                1636.7    1563.88         4.66
 Manila                 7744.83   7,466.02        3.73
 Jakarta                6453.872  6,194.50        4.19
 Kuala Lumpur           1687.87   1690.58         -0.16
 Ho Chi Minh            990.82    892.54          11.01

 (Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru, Additional
reporting by Niyati Shetty; Editing by Shreejay Sinha)
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