May 16, 2019 / 9:52 AM / 8 days ago

SE Asia Stocks-Most end lower as U.S. ban on Huawei rattles markets

    * Indonesia leaves interest rates unchanged, as expected
    * Malaysia's Q1 GDP growth slows vs prior qtr
    * Singapore and Vietnam end higher

    By Nikhil Subba
    May 16 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets closed
weaker on Thursday after Washington's ban on China's Huawei
Technologies stoked worries of a protracted Sino-U.S. trade
dispute, with the Indonesian index hitting a six-month
closing low.
    The U.S. Commerce Department moved to add Huawei and 70
affiliates to its so-called "Entity List", effectively banning
the Chinese telecoms giant from buying parts and components from
U.S. companies without a government approval.
    "The markets continue to be headline-driven," said Liu
Jinshu, director of research, NRA Capital, referring to the U.S.
business restrictions on Huawei, the world's second-largest
smartphone maker.
    The ban on Huawei "can be taken negatively with regards to
how the Trump administration plans to ease tensions between the
two largest economies in the world," said Fio Dejesus, equity
research analyst, RCBC Securities.
    Leading the losses, the Indonesian index dropped
1.4% to close at its weakest since Nov. 15, 2018, dragged lower
by industrials and utilities.
    Southeast Asia's largest economy kept its benchmark interest
rate unchanged at 6%, as expected, following a central bank
meeting on Thursday.
    Last year between May and November, the Bank Indonesia
raised the benchmark six times by 175 basis points to support
the rupiah in the wake of U.S. rate hikes by the Federal
Reserve.    
    Philippine stocks dropped 1.3% to mark their lowest
since January 2, as the benchmark index was dented by energy and
industrial stocks.
    The Philippines, an ally of the United States, in February
pushed ahead to launch a Huawei Technologies-backed 5G service
in the country, while Washington said it would rethink
cooperation with allies who use Huawei.    
    Malaysia stocks ended nearly 1% lower, pulled down
by healthcare sector with medical grade gloves maker Hartalega
Holdings falling 2.7%.
    Data on Thursday showed Malaysia's economy in the first
three months of the year grew at a slower pace than the prior
quarter, despite beating expectations forecast in a Reuters
poll.
    Bucking the downtrend, the Singapore index and the
Vietnam benchmark ended marginally higher, with the
city-state being boosted by technology shares, while the latter
was lifted by consumer stocks.
    South Korea's chip-to-energy conglomerate SK Group said on
Thursday it has agreed to buy a 6.1% stake in Vietnam's Vingroup
JSC for $1 billion.

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SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS    
    
  Change on day                                          
  Market           Current     Previous Close  Pct Move
  Singapore        3230.26     3218.77         0.36
  Bangkok          1614.75     1621.27         -0.40
  Manila           7475.16     7576.71         -1.34
  Jakarta          5895.738    5980.885        -1.42
  Kuala Lumpur     1599.19     1611.43         -0.76
  Ho Chi Minh      975.69      975.64          0.01
                                               
  Change on year                               
  Market           Current     End 2017        Pct Move
  Singapore        3230.26     3068.76         5.26
  Bangkok          1614.75     1563.88         3.25
  Manila           7475.16     8558.42         -12.66
  Jakarta          5895.738    6194.498        -4.82
  Kuala Lumpur     1599.19     1690.58         -5.41
  Ho Chi Minh      975.69      984.24          -0.87
         

 (Reporting by Nikhil Subba; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)
  
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