April 8, 2019 / 10:07 AM / 3 months ago

SE Asia Stocks-Most end firmer; Indonesia drags ahead of elections

    * Indonesia presidential elections to be held on April 17
    * Singapore snaps 7 straight sessions of gains
    * Vietnam posts over two-week closing high

    By Shreya Mariam Job
    April 8 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian markets ended
firmer on Monday as hints of more stimulus in China and a
rebound in U.S. payrolls buoyed investor sentiment, while
Indonesian stocks dragged as caution surfaced ahead of the
country's presidential elections.
    U.S. employment growth accelerated from a 17-month low in
March, while China said it will step up its policy of targeted
cuts to banks' required reserve ratios to encourage financing
for small- and medium-sized businesses.
    Underlying caution would prevail in EM Asia stating that the
U.S. data, while positive, is far from conclusive, said Vishnu
Varathan, senior economist, Mizuho Bank. 
    "Expectation-beating U.S. NFP (non-farm payrolls) is not
without the soft spots; be it a dip in participation rate or
weaker-than-projected wage gains," he said.
    Indonesian stocks pared early losses to close 0.8
percent weaker after dropping as much as 1.3 percent during the
    Political uncertainties ahead of the April 17 elections saw
investors taking positions. 
    "Investor sentiment remains weak as we close in on the
presidential election next week. Liquid large-cap stocks are
being sold off as investors attempt to lower their risk
appetite," said Taye Shim, head of research, Mirae Asset
    According to an opinion poll taken last month, President
Joko Widodo held a double-digit lead over his challenger,
retired general Prabowo Subianto.
    Telecom and consumer stocks led declines in the region with
Telekomunikasi Indonesia shedding 1.7 percent, while
Unilever Indonesia Tbk Pt ended 1.6 percent weaker.
    An index of the country's 45 most liquid stocks
declined 0.6 percent.
    Singapore stocks snapped a seven-session winning
streak to close 0.2 percent weaker, with industrials dragging
the index lower.
    Jardine Matheson Holdings Ltd and Jardine
Strategic Holdings Ltd closed down 1.4 percent each. 
    Vietnam stocks hit their highest close since March
20, with gains in real estate and financial shares boosting the
    Philippine stocks closed 0.5 percent higher with
gains concentrated in industrial shares. 
    International Container Terminal Services Inc
closed 4.9 percent firmer, posting their biggest intraday
percentage gain since March 12; while SM Investment Corp
added 1 percent. 
    Thai stock market was closed for a holiday. 

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 Change on the day                                
 Market                 Current   Previous close  Pct Move
 Singapore              3315.42   3322.64         -0.22
 Manila                 7915.63   7873.18          0.54
 Jakarta                6425.734  6474.018        -0.75
 Kuala Lumpur           1644.35   1641.81          0.15
 Ho Chi Minh            997.56    989.26           0.84
 Change so far in 2019                            
 Market                 Current   End 2018        Pct Move
 Singapore              3315.42   3068.76         8.04
 Manila                 7915.63   7,466.02        6.02
 Jakarta                6425.734  6,194.50        3.73
 Kuala Lumpur           1644.35   1690.58         -2.73
 Ho Chi Minh            997.56    892.54          11.77
 (Reporting by Shreya Mariam Job in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry
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