August 16, 2019 / 4:20 AM / a year ago

SE Asia Stocks-Most fall on trade war uncertainty, Thailand rises

    * Singapore falls most after disappointing data
    * Malaysia's GDP grows 4.9% in the second quarter 

    By Soumyajit Saha
    Aug 16 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets fell
on Friday as contradictory statements regarding tariffs between
the U.S. and China left investors puzzled, while Thailand index
rose due to a rally in financials and energy stocks.
    U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday said the trade war
would be "fairly short", adding that the two parties have
engaged in "very productive talks" over the week. Trump also
said he had a call scheduled with his Chinese counterpart Xi
Jinping soon.
   Beijing played down Trump's optimism when it vowed to
retaliate to the U.S. tariffs set to kick in on Sept. 1, calling
the tariffs a violation of a consensus reached between the two
countries in June. 
    In a separate statement, the Chinese finance ministry said
it was still looking to reach a deal, hoping "the U.S. will meet
China halfway".
    "I would call the trade tensions the key variable that is
causing so much uncertainty in the markets," Joel Ng, an analyst
with KGI Securities said.
    Singapore stocks fell the most in the region, down
0.8%, hurt by losses in financials and industrials.
    Lender United Overseas Bank lost 0.7%, while
conglomerate Jardine Matheson Holdings fell 1.5%.
    Singapore's non-oil exports shrank for the fifth straight
month as shipments of electronics and pharmaceutical declined. 
    "The data was slightly better than estimates but it was
still negative, and that doesn't lend any confidence given the
slowdown has been going on for quite a while," Joel Ng added.
    Malaysian stocks also fell, hurt by the financial
and consumer sectors.
    Lender Malayan Banking BHD slipped 0.4%, while
palm oil producer Sime Darby Plantation BHD fell 3%.
    Malaysia's GDP grew 4.9% in the second quarter to beat the
4.8% rise forecast in a Reuters poll, making it the first major
Southeast Asian economy to report an acceleration from
    Thai shares rose, helped by gains in financial and
energy stocks. Lender Siam Commercial Bank gained 1.7%,
while oil explorer PTT PCL rode a surge in oil prices
to rise 0.6%.
    Thailand's central bank on Thursday relaxed mortgage lending
rules to help some borrowers hit by tighter regulations
introduced in April. The tightening had led to a slowdown in new
housing loans in the second quarter.
    Indonesian stocks were also slightly higher, helped
by gains in the consumer and energy sectors.  
    Philippine shares were slightly lower, hurt by
consumer and utility stocks. 
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 STOCK MARKETS                                    
 Change on the day                                
 Market                 Current   Previous close  Pct Move
 Singapore              3104.55   3126.09         -0.69
 Bangkok                1611.97   1604.03         0.50
 Manila                 7819.34   7828.86         -0.12
 Jakarta                6280.447  6257.586        0.37
 Kuala Lumpur           1594.02   1600.29         -0.39
 Ho Chi Minh            980.12    979.38          0.08
 Change so far in 2019                            
 Market                 Current   End 2018        Pct Move
 Singapore              3104.55   3068.76         1.17
 Bangkok                1611.97   1563.88         3.08
 Manila                 7819.34   7,466.02        4.73
 Jakarta                6280.447  6,194.50        1.39
 Kuala Lumpur           1594.02   1690.58         -5.71
 Ho Chi Minh            980.12    892.54          9.81

 (Reporting by Soumyajit Saha; editing by Uttaresh.V)
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