March 9, 2018 / 4:49 AM / in 7 months

SE Asia Stocks-Most up on easing N. Korea tensions

    * Philippines leads gainers in region
    * Thai shares on track for eighth straight session of losses
    * Most indexes set to fall on week

    By Susan Mathew
    March 9 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets rose
on Friday as investors cheered U.S. President Donald Trump's
decision to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and the
White House agreed to exempt Canada and Mexico from higher
import tariffs.
    Trump's move could mark a potentially dramatic breakthrough
in nuclear tensions with Pyongyang, and the meeting could take
place as early as May. This came after Kim Jong Un agreed to
suspend nuclear or missile tests.
     Separately, Trump pressed ahead with tariffs on steel and
aluminium but gave conditional exemptions for Canada and Mexico,
offering at least the hope that a full-blown global trade war
could be averted. 
    Asia shares ex-Japan rose 0.6 percent, while
Japan's Nikkei rallied more than 2 percent early on.

    Manny Cruz, an analyst at Manila-based Asiasec Equities Inc,
said the political developments could "diffuse tension between
the two nations. The risk of geopolitical concerns are waning." 
    In Southeast Asia, Singapore shares rose 0.2 percent,
as industrials Jardine Strategic and Singapore
Technologies climbed 0.8 percent and 0.3 percent,
respectively. 
    Philippine stocks were up, as financials and utility
stocks rose, with BDO Unibank up 1.3 percent and
Aboitiz Equity Ventures adding 1.7 percent. 
    Data on Friday showed the country's exports grew at their
slowest pace in more than one year in January.
    Thai shares fell for an eighth straight session as
energy stock lost ground. PTT Pcl and Energy Absolute
 were among the biggest drags on the index.
    Indonesian shares declined 0.5 percent, after
closing more than 1 percent higher on Thursday. 
    Bank Central Asia and conglomerate Astra
International fell 0.8 percent and 1.3 percent,
respectively.
    Most Southeast Asian stock markets are, however, set to post
losses this week.
    Sentiment may be impacted ahead of U.S. non-farm payrolls
data, due later in the global day, Cruz said. 
    "Most of the equities will look for further direction from
how the Fed will react to the American jobs data."
    
      
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SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS: CHANGE AT 0351 GMT
    
 Market              Current        Previous      Pct Move
                                    close         
 Singapore           3486           3480.44       0.16
 Bangkok             1772.44        1778.9        -0.36
 Manila              8398.51        8381.85       0.20
 Jakarta             6424.483       6443.021      -0.29
 Kuala Lumpur        1842.47        1839.62       0.15
 Ho Chi Minh         1126.89        1124.15       0.24
                                                   
 Change on year                                    
 Market              Current        End 2017      Pct Move
 Singapore           3486           3402.92       2.44
 Bangkok             1772.44        1753.71       1.07
 Manila              8398.51        8558.42       -1.87
 Jakarta             6424.483       6355.654      1.08
 Kuala Lumpur        1842.47        1796.81       2.54
 Ho Chi Minh         1126.89        984.24        14.49
    

 (Reporting Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Biju
Dwarakanath)
  
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