By Susan Mathew
March 17 Southeast Asian shares gained on
Friday, with Indonesia hitting a record high, as the dollar
rally eased after the U.S. Federal Reserve signalled a slower
pace of monetary tightening.
Broader Asian markets were higher as the U.S. dollar fell to
a near five-week low after the Fed on Wednesday stuck to its
outlook for two additional rate increases this year.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
rose 0.3 percent.
"Regional markets gained as the dollar rally waned. They had
been pricing in the rate hike since last week. So, the dollar
had been strengthening and that was really putting pressure on
blue chips," said Victor Felix, an equity analyst with AB
Dollar bulls are closing their positions towards the weekend
and that has tapered out the rally, he added.
The dollar index, which gauges the greenback against
a basket of six major rivals, edged down 0.1 percent to 100.26,
after coming within a tick of the overnight low of 100.21, its
lowest level since Feb. 9.
Indonesian stocks rose as much as 0.7 percent to a
record high in their fifth straight session of gains as
financials rallied after the country's central bank kept
interest rates unchanged and said it expects "relatively
strong" growth in the first quarter of 2017.
"Interestingly, the central bank sounded more upbeat even if
it continued to warn on risks stemming from the external front,"
DBS Research Group said in a note.
"Bank Indonesia indicated investment growth is picking up,
particularly in non construction-related investments. Stronger
export growth is also seen to help boost overall 1Q17 GDP
growth," it added.
Bank Rakyat gained 3.2 percent, while mining
contractor United Tractors rose 2 percent.
An index of the 45 most liquid stocks was up 0.5
Malaysian shares gained the most in Southeast Asia,
rising as much as 0.9 percent to their highest in more than
CIMB Group was the top gainer on the index, adding
1.6 percent while telco Axiata Group gained nearly 2
Singapore stocks were up as much as 0.35 percent to
their highest since August 2015 as Sembcorp Industries
added 1.2 percent while DBS Group Holdings gained 0.4
Singapore's February non-oil domestic exports grew at their
fastest pace in five years, data from trade agency showed on
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SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS: CHANGE AT 0523 GMT
Market Current Previous Close Pct Move
Singapore 3171.88 3163.52 0.26
Bangkok 1558.7 1557.05 0.11
Manila 7323.11 7278.6 0.61
Jakarta 5533.305 5518.241 0.27
Kuala Lumpur 1747.77 1737.14 0.61
Ho Chi Minh 715.58 714.92 0.09
Change on year
Market Current End 2016 Pct Move
Singapore 3171.88 2880.76 10.11
Bangkok 1558.7 1542.94 1.02
Manila 7323.11 6840.64 7.1
Jakarta 5533.305 5296.711 4.47
Kuala Lumpur 1747.77 1641.73 6.46
Ho Chi Minh 715.58 664.87 7.6
(Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Vyas Mohan)