By Susan Mathew
March 15 Southeast Asian stock markets were
tepid on Wednesday as investors wait to see what cues the U.S.
Federal Reserve would reveal on its monetary policy outlook.
The Fed began its two-day policy meeting on Tuesday. With
the futures market pricing in more than a 90 percent chance that
it would raise interest rates, investors' main focus turned to
what its statement would say about the pace of hikes this year.
The Fed will announce its decision at 2 p.m. in Washington,
followed by Chair Janet Yellen's news conference half an hour
Though recent data, particularly out of China, has fuelled a
rally in Asian equities since the start of the year, investors
are expecting more headwinds for emerging markets due to an
increasingly hawkish Fed.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
was flat after posting its second-biggest daily
gain this year in the previous session.
Investors are just waiting for the final outcome of the Fed
meeting, said Joseph Roxas, president of Manila-based Eagle
Equities Inc, adding that regional central banks might change
policy rates based on the Fed decision to protect their
Meanwhile, the Indonesian central bank is expected to keep
its benchmark rate unchanged even if the Fed raises rates, a
Reuters poll shows.
Indonesian shares were marginally higher with
retailer Indoritel Makmur Internasional rising as much
as 25 percent.
An index of 45 most liquid stocks was down 0.06
percent with mining contractor United Tractors
shedding 2 percent.
Indonesia's exports and imports expanded at a slower pace in
February compared with a month earlier, as expected in a Reuters
poll, data from the statistics bureau showed.
Singapore shares were almost flat after shedding
nearly 1 percent earlier. Industrial stocks Jardine Matheson
and Singapore Technologies Engineering fell
more than 0.8 percent each.
Data released earlier showed that the city-state's
unemployment rate grew 2.2 percent in the fourth quarter, in
line with estimates. Fourth-quarter job redundancies, however,
increased 33 percent over the previous quarter.
Malaysian stocks were down after three sessions of
gains with consumer and financial stocks leading the decline.
IOI Corp fell 1.3 percent, while Malayan Banking
dropped 1.2 percent.
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SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS: Change at 0428 GMT
Market Current Previous Close Pct Move
Singapore 3138.81 3143.4 -0.15
Bangkok 1543.31 1543.15 0.01
Manila 7245.32 7261.75 -0.23
Jakarta 5439.169 5431.585 0.14
Kuala Lumpur 1716.14 1722.47 -0.37
Ho Chi Minh 714.87 714.71 0.02
Change on year
Market Current End 2016 Pct Move
Singapore 3138.81 2880.76 8.96
Bangkok 1543.31 1542.94 0.02
Manila 7245.32 6840.64 5.9
Jakarta 5439.169 5296.711 2.69
Kuala Lumpur 1716.14 1641.73 4.53
Ho Chi Minh 714.87 664.87 7.5
(Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu