September 27, 2017 / 5:07 AM / a year ago

SE Asia Stocks-Most fall after Yellen comments; N.Korea worries weigh

    By Aaron Saldanha
    Sept 27 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets fell
on Wednesday following remarks from the U.S. Federal Reserve
chief on the need to stick to gradual rate hikes, while
investors sought refuge in safer assets amid escalating tensions
on the Korean peninsula.
    Fed Chair Janet Yellen said the bank needs to continue
gradual rate hikes and it would be imprudent to leave rates on
hold until inflation reached its 2 percent target.
    Meanwhile, the war of words between the United States and
North Korea continued on Tuesday with President Donald Trump
saying that a U.S. military option would be "devastating" for
    "The markets are primarily driven due to new geopolitical
tensions, particularly in North Korea. Investors are trying to
be more cautious, playing on the sidelines and trying to
liquidate their positions," said Lexter Azurin, an analyst with
Manila-based AB Capital Securities.
    Philippine shares were the biggest losers in
Southeast Asia, extending falls into a fourth session.
    Industrial and telecom stocks were the biggest losers. Index
heavyweight SM Investments was the biggest drag with a
drop of up to 1.8 percent. 
    The Philippine stock market, which has been the region's
second best performer this year, had shed 1.8 percent from a
record high touched on Sept. 21 as of Tuesday's close.
    Indonesian shares fell as much as 0.4 percent,
largely due to losses in financial and energy stocks.
    Singapore shares rose as much as 0.7 percent, boosted
by gains in financials and industrials, while Thai equities
 edged up ahead of a central bank policy meeting later in
the day.
    The Bank of Thailand is expected to keep its benchmark
interest rate unchanged near record lows, shrugging off calls
from the government and businesses for a cut to contain the
strength of the baht.
    All but one of 22 economists in a Reuters poll predicted the
BOT's one-day repurchase rate will stay at 1.50
percent - where it has been since April 2015.
    ING forecast a quarter-point cut, citing a need to stem the
baht appreciation pressure to preserve export competitiveness.
    The baht, which hit a one-month low earlier in the
session, has risen about 8 percent against the dollar this year,
the most among Asian currencies.
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 Change on day                                         
  Market          Current      Previous Close  Pct Move
  Singapore       3233.16      3212.04         0.66
  Bangkok         1673.16      1669.75         0.20
  Manila          8119.09      8170.14         -0.62
  Jakarta         5859.207     5863.962        -0.08
  Kuala Lumpur    1763.79      1765.59         -0.10
  Ho Chi Minh     802.9        805.35          -0.30
  Change on year                               
  Market          Current      End 2016        Pct Move
  Singapore       3233.16      2880.76         12.23
  Bangkok         1673.16      1542.94         8.44
  Manila          8119.09      6840.64         18.69
  Jakarta         5859.207     5296.711        10.62
  Kuala Lumpur    1763.79      1641.73         7.43
  Ho Chi Minh     802.9        664.87          20.76
 (Reporting by Aaron Jude Saldanha in Bengaluru; Additional
reporting by Chris Thomas; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)
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