May 3, 2017 / 5:58 AM / 4 months ago

SE Asia Stocks-Tepid; investors cautious ahead of Fed policy move

    By Christina Martin
    May 3 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets traded
flat to higher on Wednesday, tracking overnight gains on Wall
Street, while investors were cautious ahead of the U.S.
Federal's policy decision expected later in the day. 
    Wall Street edged higher on corporate earnings, and overall,
profits at S&P 500 companies are estimated to have risen 13.9
percent in the first quarter, the most since 2011, according to
Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
    The Fed, which concludes its two-day meet on Wednesday, is
expected to hold interest rates steady, but may hint it is on
track for an increase in June.
    MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
 fell 0.4 percent, while expectations that the
Federal Reserve might signal a June rate hike helped lift the
dollar.
    "We've already priced in the low probability of a rate hike.
Also, we have been tracking gains in the U.S. market. So far,
earnings have been positive at their end so we have been taking
cues from them," said Victor Felix, equity analyst, AB Capital
Securities.
    Singapore's benchmark index, which posted a 21-month
closing high on Tuesday, extended the gains with financials
outperforming other sectors.
    While DBS Group Holdings Ltd climbed to its
highest since July 30, 2015, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation
Ltd and United Overseas Bank Ltd rose as
much as between 1.5 percent and 2 percent. 
    Philippines shares traded flat, as investors awaited
lawmakers' decision on whether to accept or reject Environment
Secretary Regina Lopez as their environment minister. Lopez had
angered the mining industry after ordering the closure of more
than half the mines in Philippines to protect water resources.
   
    "Basically is an environmentalist, very anti-mining.
So I think right now investors, especially in the mining and oil
sub-sectors will be watching for that. If she gets confirmed
today, we can expect a sell-off in the mining sector, but if she
does not get confirmed, I think there will be a rally in the
mining sector," said Felix.
    Thailand shares edged up 0.2 percent, while
Indonesia dipped, with telecoms and financials dragging
the index down. 
    Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Persero) Tbk PT slid to
a one-week low, while Bank Central Asia Tbk PT slipped
up to 0.8 percent. 
    
    For Asian Companies click;  

SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS: Change at 0544 GMT
  Market           Current   Previous Close  Pct Move
  Singapore        3235.08   3211.11         0.74
  Bangkok          1567.25   1564.12         0.20
  Manila           7703.62   7703.1          -0.01
  Jakarta          5673.099  5675.808        -0.08
  Kuala Lumpur     1778.44   1778.47         0.00
  Ho Chi Minh      718.26    717.73          0.07
                                             
  Change on year                             
  Market           Current   End 2016        Pct Move
  Singapore        3235.38   2880.76         12.30
  Bangkok          1567.25   1542.94         1.58
  Manila           7702.33   6840.64         12.60
  Jakarta          5673.099  5296.711        7.11
  Kuala Lumpur     1778.44   1641.73         8.33
  Ho Chi Minh      718.26    664.87          8.03
 
 (Reporting by Christina Martin; Editing by Sherry
Jacob-Phillips)
  

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