December 18, 2019 / 5:07 AM / a month ago

SE Asia Stocks-Thai leads gains; Philippines drops on prospects of rate cut

    * Philippines cbank seen to cut rates by "at least 50 bps"
in 2020
    * Singapore tracks global equities higher on trade cheer
    * Indonesian stocks set to gain for fourth straight session

    By Shruti Sonal
    Dec 18 (Reuters) - Thai shares led gains among Southeast
Asian stock markets on Wednesday, lifted by energy and financial
sectors, while the Philippine index dropped after the central
bank signalled further rate cuts amid flagging growth and lean
global demand.
    A run of recent upbeat data has helped calm fears of
recession, while the "phase-one" Sino-U.S. trade deal seems to
have lifted some of the uncertainty on the global outlook.
    Thai stocks marked their best session in nearly five
days ahead of a central bank meeting, where the Bank of
Thailand, according to a Reuters poll, is likely to stand pat on
the interest rate.  
    Analysts, however, are not ruling out further rate cuts in
2020. More rate cuts could come "in particular if domestic
demand fails to pick up on stimulus and exports growth remains
weak," Zhu Huani, market economist, Mizuho Bank.
    The Thai index was underpinned by gains in energy stocks,
with PTT PCL and PTT Exploration and Production
 advancing on the back of firmer overnight oil prices.
    PTT Exploration said it has set an investment budget of
$4.61 billion for next year and also targeted an 11% increase in
petroleum sales volume next year.
    The Philippine benchmark was dragged lower by losses
in financials and real estate sectors. 
    Sentiment was also hit after the central bank governor
signalled a cut in the benchmark interest rate by "at least 50
basis points" in 2020.
    Bank of the Philippine Islands fell as much as
3.09% to its lowest since July 12, and was the biggest
percentage loser in the index.
    Trade-sensitive Singapore bourse tracked broader
peers higher, after upbeat U.S. housing and manufacturing data
further assuaged fears of an economic slowdown.
    Indonesian stocks were set to extend gains for a
fourth consecutive session, on the back of financials and real
estate.
    Healthcare and financial stocks lifted the Malaysian index
 by 0.3%. 
            
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SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS As at 0442 GMT
 Market                 Current   Previous close  Pct Move
 Singapore              3209.21   3200.8           0.26
 Bangkok                1562.69   1548.65          0.91
 Manila                 7699.53   7730.45         -0.40
 Jakarta                6259.997  6244.352         0.25
 Kuala Lumpur           1581.78   1576.95          0.31
 Ho Chi Minh            951.73    954.03          -0.24
                                                  
 Change so far in 2019                            
 Market                 Current   End 2018        Pct Move
 Singapore              3209.21   3068.76         4.58
 Bangkok                1562.69   1563.88         -0.08
 Manila                 7699.53   7,466.02        3.13
 Jakarta                6259.997  6,194.50        1.06
 Kuala Lumpur           1581.78   1690.58         -6.44
 Ho Chi Minh            951.73    892.54          6.63
 
 (Reporting by Shruti Sonal; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)
  
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