By Krishna V Kurup
April 13 Southeast Asian markets ended in
negative territory on Thursday, with Singapore leading the pack
as the city-state's central bank cautioned about the global
economic growth, signalling a reluctance to tighten policy
The Monetary Authority of Singapore held policy steady,
saying a "neutral" stance will be needed for an extended period
in order to support an economy that contracted in the first
Singapore's trade-reliant economy shrank 1.9 percent in the
first quarter from the previous three months on an annualised
basis, weighed by contractions in manufacturing and services,
preliminary data from the Ministry of Trade and Industry showed.
The central bank also said "downside risks remain, alongside
significant policy uncertainty," underscoring worries about the
outlook in the face of U.S. President Donald Trump's
protectionist threats, Brexit and geopolitical risks in the
Middle East and North Korea.
Singapore's benchmark index ended down to post its
lowest close in over two weeks.
Financials accounted for most of the losses, with DBS Group
Holdings shedding 0.8 percent.
Global markets remained under pressure with escalating fears
of a new weapon test by North Korea, as a U.S. carrier group
sails towards the area, and after Trump said the dollar "was
getting too strong," and he would like to see interest rates
Escalating geopolitical tensions will keep investors
side-lined dampening sentiment in broader markets, said Taye
Shim, head of research at Mirae Asset Sekuritas in Jakarta.
"Likely, we are going to see a little bit of volatility in
terms of how things unfold."
Indonesia finished 0.5 percent lower to its steepest
close since April 3, with financials being the biggest drag on
the index. Bank Central Asia Tbk Pt fell 1.7 percent.
Indonesia's import growth probably softened in March, while
the growth pace of exports accelerated slightly, a Reuters poll
The poll sees Indonesia's trade surplus narrowing slightly
in March to $1.20 billion, from February's $1.31 billion
Index of the country's 45 most liquid stocks fell
Markets in Thailand and Philippines were
closed for a public holiday.
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SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS: Change on day
Market Current Prev close Pct Move
Singapore 3169.24 3186.01 -0.53
Jakarta 5616.545 5644.155 -0.49
Kuala Lumpur 1738.18 1744.08 -0.34
Ho Chi Minh 724.35 725.58 -0.17
Change on year
Market Current End 2016 Pct Move
Singapore 3169.24 2880.76 10.01
Jakarta 5616.545 5296.711 6.04
Kuala Lumpur 1738.18 1641.73 5.87
Ho Chi Minh 724.35 664.87 8.9
(Reporting by Krishna V Kurup in Bengaluru; Additional
reporting by Urvashi Goenka; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)