December 19, 2018 / 10:08 AM / 6 months ago

SE Asia Stocks-Most end firmer on hopes of Sino-U.S. trade spat thaw

    * Vietnam on five-day losing run, sole loser in region
    * Philippine stocks close at two-week high
    * Investors brace for U.S. Fed decision later in the day

    By Rashmi Ashok
    Dec 19 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets ended
higher on Wednesday with Philippines leading the gains, as
reports of a potential U.S.-China meeting in January boosted
sentiment, while Vietnam shares closed lower on a technical
    Investors took heart after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven
Mnuchin told Bloomberg in an interview that the United States
and China are planning to hold meetings in January to "document
an agreement" on trade.
    The dispute between the world's two biggest economies
threatens businesses throughout the region due to global value
    "Positive signals on the trade war front are stabilising
risk in Asia," Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia-Pacific
at OANDA, said in a note.
    Philippine shares, the top performers in the region,
closed at their highest level in two weeks. 
    Industrial and financial stocks were the biggest boost in
the index, with DMCI Holdings Inc ending 6.8 percent
higher, while Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc closed up 5.5
    Singapore stocks ended firmer on the back of
financial stocks, while Indonesian shares snapped three
straight sessions of declines to close higher. 
    Top performers computer and electronics retailer Global
Teleshop Tbk closed 25 percent firmer, while Bank
Agris Tbk ended 24.5 percent higher.
    Malaysian stocks ended 1.2 percent higher, after
plumbing near two-year lows in the previous session.
   Thai shares reversed course during early trade to
edge higher, as gains in financial and industrial stocks offset
losses in energy companies.
    However, caution prevailed ahead of the highly anticipated
U.S. Federal Reserve meeting scheduled later on Wednesday amid
expectations that their hawkish stance may give way to a
"dovish" hike.
    Bucking the trend, Vietnamese stocks slipped 0.9
percent to notch their fifth straight session in the red, with
financial stocks being the biggest drag.
    The slump was due to a technical sell-down, owing to the
recent strength that had pushed the index to a level above 960
points, said Bui Nguyen Khoa, head of macro research, BIDV
Securities Company. 
    Macro-economic factors and local business remained sound in
the country, he said, adding that global downtrend in equities
could apply some psychological pressure, pushing the index to
about 880 points-900 points where it would stabilize again. 
    Shares in Vietnam Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Industry
and Trade closed 4.9 percent lower, while Joint Stock
Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam lost about
1.3 percent.
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 Change on the day                            
 Market             Current   Previous close  Pct Move
 Singapore          3058.65   3045.54         0.43
 Bangkok            1601.12   1583.19         1.13
 Manila             7579.62   7420.4          2.15
 Jakarta            6176.094  6081.867        1.55
 Kuala Lumpur       1655.66   1635.31         1.24
 Ho Chi Minh        919.24    927.25          -0.86
 Change on year                               
 Market             Current   End prev yr     Pct Move
 Singapore          3058.65   3402.92         -10.12
 Bangkok            1601.12   1753.71         -8.70
 Manila             7579.62   8,558.42        -11.44
 Jakarta            6176.094  6,355.65        -2.83
 Kuala Lumpur       1655.66   1796.81         -7.86
 Ho Chi Minh        919.24    984.24          -6.60

 (Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry
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