By Christina Martin
March 3 Most Southeast Asian stock markets ended
lower on Friday as investors turned cautious ahead of a speech
by U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, with expectations
growing the Fed would raise interest rates soon.
Several Fed officials have recently voiced the need for
higher rates, and Yellen is expected to echo the same sentiment
in her speech later in the day.
"I think most Asian markets are awaiting Yellen's speech...
The probability of a rate hike is now around 80 percent versus
last week's 40 percent, so a rate hike on March 15 wouldn't be a
surprise event now," said Victor Felix, an equity analyst with
AB Capital Securities in Manila.
"If they are going to raise rates over there in expectation
of stronger growth, you can expect more foreign outflows. U.S.
investors will be bringing their money back to the United States
to right the fiscal stimulus."
The dollar was broadly steady, but remained on track
for solid weekly gains.
An increase in Fed interest rate "adds further strength to
the U.S. dollar and when that happens you're going to see a
reversal of fund flow from emerging markets," said Nicholas Teo,
a trading strategist at KGI Securities (Singapore) Pte Ltd.
Singapore's FTSE Straits Times Index fell 0.5 percent
lower, but posted its fourth straight weekly gain. Consumer
staples, telecoms and financials led the decline on Friday.
Golden Agri-Resources Ltd fell 1.3 percent, while
Singapore Telecommunications Ltd dropped 0.5 percent.
Singapore has been one of the stronger performing markets in
Asia this year, "so a lot of hot money that came in on the back
of initial weakness in the U.S. dollar is now starting to
reverse," said Nicholas Teo, a trading strategist at KGI
Securities (Singapore) Pte Ltd.
Malaysia fell 0.4 percent with losses spread across
all sectors, while Indonesia dropped 0.3 percent.
Philippine shares came off early losses to end
slightly higher, but posted their first weekly drop in four.
Vietnam ended 0.7 percent higher, led by financial
and industrial stocks, but marked their first weekly drop in 10.
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SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS: Change on day
Market Current Previous Close Pct Move
Singapore 3122.34 3136.48 -0.45
Bangkok 1566.2 1569.94 -0.24
Manila 7247.12 7234.94 0.17
Jakarta 5391.215 5408.254 -0.32
Kuala Lumpur 1708.38 1715.67 -0.42
Ho Chi Minh 712.62 707.51 0.72
Change on year
Market Current End 2016 Pct Move
Singapore 3122.34 2880.76 8.39
Bangkok 1566.2 1542.94 1.51
Manila 7247.12 6840.64 5.94
Jakarta 5391.215 5296.711 1.78
Kuala Lumpur 1708.38 1641.73 4.06
Ho Chi Minh 712.62 664.87 7.18
(Reporting by Christina Martin; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)