March 18, 2019 / 4:06 AM / in a month

SE Asia Stocks-Most rise in hopes of a dovish Fed; Vietnam leads gains

    * Indonesia on track for fourth straight session of gains
    * Singapore's February non-oil exports rise unexpectedly
    * Investor sentiment bolstered ahead of Fed policy meeting 

    By Shreya Mariam Job
    March 18 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets rose
on Monday with Vietnam leading gains, as investor sentiment
buoyed ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve's policy meeting where
the policymakers were expected to remain dovish. 
    "Investors are likely to tread water today, awaiting the
Fed's policy decision on Wednesday," according to an OCBC note,
A slew of central bank meetings in Indonesia, Philippines and
Thailand in the coming week have also boosted sentiment, it
added. 
    The U.S. Federal Reserve will remain patient for a little
longer than thought just last month, waiting until the third
quarter before raising rates once more, and then stay on the
sidelines, a Reuters poll of economists showed.
    The rigorous rate hike cycle of the Fed last year had put
pressure on most Southeast Asian economies, with especially
Indonesia resorting to aggressive policy tightening in an
attempt to fend the rupiah. The continued dovish stance has
relieved these pressures and fostered risk sentiment in the
region.
    The Vietnam index rose 0.6 percent, buoyed by
financial and real estate stocks. Index heavyweights Joint Stock
Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Viet Nam rose 2
percent and 1.2 percent, respectively. 
    The Indonesian benchmark index rose as much as 0.7
percent rising to its highest in two weeks in early trade, with
financials and consumer stocks boosting the index. 
    It was up over 0.4 percent after relinquishing some of the
gains, with the country's big lenders Bank Central Asia Tbk PT
 and Bank Rakyat Indonesia (Persero) Tbk PT
gaining as much as 1.1 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively.   
    Singapore stocks rose about 0.4 percent after data
from the trade agency Enterprise Singapore showed a surprise
rise in February exports of the country.
    Owing to a surge in China exports, non-oil domestic exports
(NODX) of Singapore rose 4.9 percent in February year-on-year.

    Industrials and financials pushed the index higher, with the
country's biggest listed bank DBS Group Holdings Ltd
advancing 0.6 percent and Jardine Strategic Holdings Ltd
 firming 0.7 percent. 
    Utilities and healthcare stocks pushed the Malaysian index
 0.4 percent higher with Tenaga Nasional Bhd
rising 1.9 percent and IHH Healthcare Bhd gaining 1.4
percent. 
    Meanwhile, the Thai benchmark slipped into the red
with consumer and industrial stocks dragging the index 0.4
percent lower. CP All PCL and Airports of Thailand
PCL dropped 1.3 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.

    
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SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS at 0339 GMT
 Change on the day                                
 Market                 Current   Previous close  Pct Move
 Singapore              3211.96   3200.18         0.37
 Bangkok                1619.01   1625.57         -0.40
 Manila                 7801.86   7798.28         0.05
 Jakarta                6486.426  6461.183        0.39
 Kuala Lumpur           1687.01   1680.54         0.38
 Ho Chi Minh            1010.01   1004.12         0.59
                                                  
 Change so far in 2019                            
 Market                 Current   End 2018        Pct Move
 Singapore              3211.96   3068.76         4.67
 Bangkok                1619.01   1563.88         3.53
 Manila                 7801.86   7,466.02        4.50
 Jakarta                6486.426  6,194.50        4.71
 Kuala Lumpur           1687.01   1690.58         -0.21
 Ho Chi Minh            1010.01   892.54          13.16
 
 (Reporting by Shreya Mariam Job in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi
Aich)
  
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