March 20, 2018 / 10:17 AM / a year ago

SE Asia Stocks-Philippines, Indonesia drop ahead of Fed meeting

    * Philippines slumps 2.1 pct, posts lowest close since
    * Indonesia extends fall into sixth consecutive session
    * Singapore ends higher for first time in five sessions

    By Aaron Saldanha
    March 20 (Reuters) - Philippine shares plunged over 2
percent and Indonesian stocks fell for a sixth straight session
on Tuesday, as investors braced for new Federal Reserve Chairman
Jerome Powell's first policy meeting starting later in the day.
    The Philippine Stock Exchange PSEI Index ended 2.1
percent lower, posting its lowest close since mid-September,
after declining as much as 2.7 percent.
    The Philippine economy is more exposed to U.S. rate hikes
with current account and budget deficits. Inflation also
quickened to 3.9 percent in February, the fastest pace in more
than three years under a revised price index.  
    "I think what is alarming the region right now is the Fed is
open to raising its benchmark rates probably four times (this
year). It is a story of a shift of funds from emerging markets
back to the U.S. given the improved economic outlook," said
Lexter Azurin, a senior equity analyst at AB Capital.
    As of Monday, foreign investors had offloaded Philippine
equities worth a net $195 million so far this month, according
to exchange data.
    The Fed is widely expected to raise rates on Wednesday, with
market participants looking for any hints on the number of
remaining rate hikes in store for 2018 in Powell's commentary
the next day.
    Financials and real estate stocks were the top losers with
Ayala Corp declining 7.2 percent and BDO Unibank Inc
 shedding 2.7 percent.  
    Indonesian shares dropped 0.7 percent to their
lowest close since late December with Telekomunikasi Indonesia
 down 4.2 percent.
    Foreign investors had sold Indonesian equities worth a net
$714 million in the month to Monday, according to exchange data.
    An index of the country's 45 most liquid stocks
fell 0.9 percent.
    Thai shares closed little changed with gains in
materials stocks being largely negated by weakness in
financials. Bangkok Bank Pcl fell 1 percent.
    Singapore shares snapped four sessions of falls,
buoyed by financials. Lender Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp Ltd
 rose 1.4 percent, while DBS Group Holdings Ltd
 gained 0.9 percent.
    Malaysian shares recovered from early losses to end
0.5 percent higher as financials and telecom services stocks
rose. Public Bank Bhd gained 1.7 percent.
For Asian Companies click;  

  Market                 Current    Previous close  Pct Move
  Singapore              3513.31    3498.29         0.43
  Bangkok                1799.84    1799.79         0.00
  Manila                 8059.6     8235.54         -2.14
  Jakarta                6243.577   6289.572        -0.73
  Kuala Lumpur           1856.39    1847.94         0.46
 Ho Chi Minh             1159.39    1159.22         0.01
  Change so far in 2018                             
  Market                 Current    End 2017        Pct Move
  Singapore              3513.31    3402.92         3.24
  Bangkok                1799.84    1753.71         2.63
  Manila                 8059.6     8558.42         -5.83
  Jakarta                6243.577   6355.654        -1.76
  Kuala Lumpur           1856.39    1796.81         3.32
  Ho Chi Minh            1159.39    984.24          17.80
 (Reporting by Aaron Saldanha in Bengaluru; Editing by
Subhranshu Sahu)
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