March 21, 2018 / 10:14 AM / a year ago

SE Asia Stocks-Philippines extends fall; most others climb before Fed decision

    * Philippines ends below 8,000 for first time since Sept
    * Indonesia snaps 6 sessions of falls, ends 1.1 pct higher
    * Vietnam finishes higher for eighth straight session 
    * Focus on Fed's rate decision, outlook

    By Aaron Saldanha
    March 21 (Reuters) - Philippine stocks slumped nearly 2
percent on Wednesday, extending falls to their lowest close
since early August, while most other Southeast Asian markets
climbed ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve's rate decision and
    The Fed is widely expected to raise interest rates at its
two-day policy meeting that ends on Wednesday, with the focus
mainly on Chairman Jerome Powell's commentary later in the
global day, which may provide hints on the number of hikes for
the rest of the year.
    Most investors have already adjusted their positions into
fixed income assets, said Rachelle Cruz, the head of research at
AP Securities in the Philippines.
    The Philippine Stock Exchange PSEI Index dropped 1.9
percent and closed below the 8,000 level for the first time
since September, weighed down by financials and industrials. 
    SM Investments Corp fell 2 percent, while Ayala Land
Inc declined 3.1 percent to its lowest close since June
    The central bank's reticence to raise rates puts the country
at a significant disadvantage if the peso weakens after a
potential rate hike by the Fed, analysts say.
    "Companies suffering in terms of margins would be consumer
companies as a lot of their products are imported from other
countries," said AP Securities' Cruz.
    The Philippine stock index shed 4 percent in the three
sessions through Wednesday.
    Indonesian shares snapped a six-session losing
streak and closed 1.1 percent higher, helped by consumer staples
and materials.
    An index of the country's 45 most liquid stocks
firmed 1.1 percent.
    Unilever Indonesia Tbk PT rose 2.6 percent, while
Telekomunikasi Indonesia ended 1.4 percent higher.
    Malaysian shares gained 0.5 percent as financials
and telecom services stocks rose. CIMB Group Holdings Bhd
 ended 1.4 percent higher.
     Government data showed the consumer price index
in February rose 1.4 percent from a year earlier, below the 1.9
percent forecast in a Reuters poll.
    Vietnam shares advanced for an eighth straight
session and closed 0.9 percent higher on broad-based gains.
    Real estate firm Vingroup JSC rose 3.7 percent to
an all-time closing high.
    Singapore shares edged lower, dragged by industrials
and real estate stocks. Jardine Matheson Holdings Ltd
ended down 1.8 percent.
    For Asian Companies click;  

  Market                 Current   Previous close  Pct
  Singapore              3511.13   3513.31         -0.06
  Bangkok                1801.43   1799.84         0.09
  Manila                 7909.07   8059.6          -1.87
  Jakarta                6312.831  6243.577        1.11
  Kuala Lumpur           1865.8    1856.39         0.51
 Ho Chi Minh             1169.36   1159.39         0.86
  Change so far in 2018                            
  Market                 Current   End 2017        Pct
  Singapore              3511.13   3402.92         3.18
  Bangkok                1801.43   1753.71         2.72
  Manila                 7909.07   8558.42         -7.59
  Jakarta                6312.831  6355.654        -0.67
  Kuala Lumpur           1865.8    1796.81         3.84
  Ho Chi Minh            1169.36   984.24          18.81
 (Reporting by Aaron Saldanha in Bengaluru; Editing by
Subhranshu Sahu)
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