March 23, 2018 / 4:07 AM / 3 months ago

SE Asia Stocks-Fall sharply on U.S.-China trade war worries

    * Asian shares ex-Japan dip 2.4 pct, steepest drop in 1-1/2
mths
    * Philippines falls 2 pct, headed for 5th straight losing
week
    * Vietnam falls from record, set for first losing session in
ten
    * Singapore sheds as much as 2.1 pct

    By Aaron Saldanha
    March 23 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets fell
sharply on Friday as U.S. President Donald Trump unveiled a plan
to impose tariffs on Chinese goods, bringing the two countries
closer to a trade war and unnerving investors across the globe.
    China urged the United States to "pull back from the brink",
saying Beijing was not afraid to engage in a trade war should
the case arise.
    The escalating tensions took a toll on broader Asian shares
, which weakened as much as 2.4 percent, the
steepest decline in a month-and-a-half. 
    "Hopefully... some agreement is reached between them in the
next couple of weeks," said Manny Cruz, an analyst with Asiasec
Equities Inc in Makati City.
    Singapore shares shed as much as 2.1 percent on
broad-based losses, with United Overseas Bank Ltd
dropping 2.8 percent.
    Indonesian shares dipped as much as 2.7 percent,
with financials and consumer staples weighing on the benchmark
the most. 
    The index of the country's 45 most liquid stocks
was as much as 3.4 percent lower.
    Indonesia should be hardest hit in the region in the event
of a trade war due to the export-reliant nature of its economy,
said Asiasec Equities analyst Cruz. 
    The bearish sentiment carried across the Strait of Malacca
to Malaysia, where shares lost as much as 1 percent, as
financials and telecom services weighed. Genting Bhd
fell 1.8 percent.
    Vietnam shares retreated from an all-time peak set on
Thursday, shedding as much as 2.5 percent. The benchmark was on
track to snap a nine-session winning streak.
    Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Viet Nam
 lost as much as 4.9 percent.
    Philippine shares fell below the 8,000 mark for a
second time this week, with financials and industrials leading
the losses. The index fell as much as 2.1 percent, wiping off
most of the 2.7 percent gain in the previous session.
    Philippine index has lost about 3.3 percent this week,
setting it on course for a fifth straight week of losses.
    Heavyweight SM Investments Corp fell 3.7 percent
while Ayala Land Inc was down 3.3 percent.
    
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SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS: Change as at 0330 GMT
  Market                  Current   Previous close  Pct
                                                    Move
  Singapore               3424.95   3491.37         -1.90
  Bangkok                 1789.68   1798.55         -0.49
  Manila                  7950.92   8124.45         -2.14
  Jakarta                 6138.933  6254.074        -1.84
  Kuala Lumpur            1862.49   1876.87         -0.77
 Ho Chi Minh              1155.84   1172.36         -1.41
                                                    
  Change so far in 2018                             
  Market                  Current   End 2017        Pct
                                                    Move
  Singapore               3424.95   3402.92         0.65
  Bangkok                 1789.68   1753.71         2.05
  Manila                  7950.92   8558.42         -7.10
  Jakarta                 6138.933  6355.654        -3.41
  Kuala Lumpur            1862.49   1796.81         3.66
  Ho Chi Minh             1155.84   984.24          17.43
 

 (Reporting by Aaron Saldanha, Additional reporting by Saif
Naqvi in Bengaluru; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri)
  
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