January 23, 2019 / 10:15 AM / 4 months ago

SE Asia Stocks-Malaysia falls ahead of cenbank policy meeting; Thailand gains 1 pct

    * Thailand rises for sixth consecutive session
    * Malaysia snaps 3 straight sessions of gains

    By Shreya Mariam Job
    Jan 23 (Reuters) - Malaysian shares fell on Wednesday,
underperforming other Southeast Asian markets ahead of a central
bank policy meeting and December inflation data, while Thai
stocks rose 1 percent with almost all sectors in positive
territory.
    Bank Negara Malaysia will likely keep its benchmark
overnight interest rate unchanged at 3.25 percent
at its policy review on Thursday, a Reuters poll showed, with
the last move a year ago, when it raised the rate by 25 basis
points.
    The consumer price index likely rose 0.4 percent in December
from a year earlier, a Reuters poll showed, slightly faster than
the previous month.
    The benchmark stock index snapped three straight
sessions of gains and closed 0.8 percent lower, weighed down by
the material and financial sectors.
    Shares of Press Metal Aluminium Holdings Bhd
dropped 6.1 percent, while those of CIMB group Holdings Bhd
 fell 1.9 percent.
    Among other losers, Singapore dropped 0.7 percent
after data showed inflation rose more than expected in December.
    The headline consumer price index rose 0.5 percent in
December from a year earlier, higher than the 0.4 percent rise
expected by economists in a Reuters poll and the 0.3 percent
increase in November.
    Financials and industrials were among the top losers with
DBS Group Holdings Ltd shedding 1.6 percent and
Hutchison Port Holdings Trust dipping 2 percent. 
    Philippine shares erased most of earlier losses to
close slightly lower ahead of fourth-quarter GDP data. 
    A Reuters poll of 12 economists predicts the gross domestic
product for the December quarter to have expanded by 6.2 percent
from a year earlier, marginally up from July-September's 6.1
percent, a three-year low.
    Financial and consumer discretionary stocks were among the
top losers with Jollibee Foods Corp declining 2.5
percent and Bank of the Philippine Islands shedding 2.1
percent. 
    Thai shares closed higher for a sixth straight
session, buoyed by financials and telecoms.
    Meanwhile, the central bank said the baht's
strength is in line with regional currencies, as the dollar has
weakened.
    The baht, Asia's best performing currency, has appreciated
about 2.6 percent against the dollar this year, hovering around
its highest in more than eight months hit last week.
    "Expectations of foreign inflows into Thai assets also weigh
on the pair (USD-THB). This is in contrast to yesterday where
foreign investors sold $39.1 million and $46.8 million in
equities and debt," Maybank said in a note.
    Airports of Thailand Pcl rose 1.5 percent, while
Siam Commercial Bank Pcl jumped 2.4 percent. 
    
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SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS
 Change on the day                               
 Market                 Current  Previous close  Pct Move
 Singapore              3171.11  3192.71         -0.68
 Bangkok                1617.38  1601.77         0.97
 Manila                 7989.65  8008.67         -0.24
 Jakarta                6451.17  6468.562        -0.27
 Kuala Lumpur           1688.14  1702.12         -0.82
 Ho Chi Minh            908.18   906.55          0.18
                                                 
 Change so far in 2019                           
 Market                 Current  End 2018        Pct Move
 Singapore              3171.11  3068.76         3.34
 Bangkok                1617.38  1563.88         3.42
 Manila                 7989.65  7,466.02        7.01
 Jakarta                6451.17  6,194.50        4.14
 Kuala Lumpur           1688.14  1690.58         -0.14
 Ho Chi Minh            908.18   892.54          1.75
 
 (Reporting by Shreya Mariam Job in Bengaluru; Editing by
Subhranshu Sahu)
  
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