March 15, 2017 / 5:15 AM / 6 months ago

SE Asia Stocks-Tepid ahead of Fed decision

    By Susan Mathew
    March 15 (Reuters) - 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
later.
    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
respective currencies.
    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.
    
For Asian Companies click;  

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
Sahu)
  

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