March 4, 2019 / 9:49 AM / 3 months ago

SE Asia Stocks-Vietnam, Singapore lead gains on trade deal hopes

    * Philippines snaps three consecutive sessions of losses 
    * Malaysia falls ahead of central bank policy meeting 

    By Shriya Ramakrishnan
    March 4 (Reuters) - Vietnam and Singapore shares led gains
in Southeast Asia on Monday, lifted by growing signs that the
United States and China are close to striking a trade deal that
could end a long-drawn tariff row.
    The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that Washington
could lift most or all of its tariffs on Beijing, while a summit
between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart
Xi Jinping to sign a final trade deal could happen later this
month. 
    Investors will now turn their focus to China's annual
parliamentary meeting this week, which may unveil more stimulus
measures to prop up its slowing economy, along with details on
economic growth targets for the year. 
    Vietnam shares climbed 1.5 percent, buoyed by real
estate and financial stocks. Vinhomes JSC firmed 2.4
percent, while Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Investment and
Development of Vietnam advanced 2.3 percent.   
    Singapore shares closed 1 percent higher, boosted by
financials and industrials. DBS Group Holdings Ltd,
the country's biggest lender, gained 1.7 percent, while Jardine
Strategic Holdings rose 1.8 percent.  
    Philippine shares snapped three sessions of losses,
supported by consumer and financial stocks.
    Annual inflation is forecast to have slowed to a one-year
low of 4.0 percent in February, a Reuters poll showed, due to
cheaper food and fuel prices, and a strong peso. Inflation was
4.4 percent in January, staying outside the central bank's
target range of 2-4 percent since March last year.
    Malaysian shares, which have been the region's worst
performer so far this year, extended losses into a fifth
session, shrugging off better-than-expected January trade data.
    The country reported a trade surplus of 11.5 billion ringgit
 ($2.82 billion) for January, compared with the 10.4 billion
ringgit registered in the previous month, driven largely by
higher shipments of manufactured and mining goods. 
    Bank Negara Malaysia will likely keep its benchmark
overnight rate at 3.25 percent at a policy review
on Tuesday, a Reuters poll showed, even as consumer prices on an
annual basis fell in January for the first time in nearly a
decade.  
            
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SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS
 Market                 Current  Previous close  Pct Move
 Singapore              3251.08  3220.4          0.95
 Bangkok                1635.3   1641.44         -0.37
 Manila                 7675.47  7641.77         0.44
 Jakarta                6488.42  6499.884        -0.18
 Kuala Lumpur           1693.99  1700.76         -0.40
 Ho Chi Minh            993.99   979.63          1.47
                                                 
 Change so far in 2019                           
 Market                 Current  End 2018        Pct Move
 Singapore              3251.08  3068.76         5.94
 Bangkok                1635.3   1563.88         4.57
 Manila                 7675.47  7,466.02        2.81
 Jakarta                6488.42  6,194.50        4.74
 Kuala Lumpur           1693.99  1690.58         0.20
 Ho Chi Minh            993.99   892.54          11.37
 
($1 = 4.0740 ringgit)

 (Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by
Subhranshu Sahu)
  
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