January 24, 2019 / 10:04 AM / 2 months ago

SE Asia Stocks-Rise, Philippines gains on hopes of monetary policy ease

    * Philippines rises to over 10-month closing high
    * Singapore recovers, Jardine Matheson briefly tanks

    By Shreya Mariam Job
    Jan 24 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets rose on
Thursday, with the Philippines leading the pack as investors
expect the country's central bank to ease monetary policies
after data showed the economy grew slower than expected in the
fourth quarter of 2018.
    The Southeast Asian economy grew 6.1 percent in the fourth
quarter from a year earlier, slightly faster than the previous
quarter's 6.0 percent, but below the 6.2 percent seen in a
Reuters poll. That brought full-year growth of 6.2 percent,
below the government's downwardly revised target of 6.5-6.9
percent and 2017's pace of 6.7 percent.
    Some economists say if growth slows more, the central bank,
which hiked rates five times in 2018 by 175 basis points in
total to battle high inflation, could loosen policy this year. 
    "We can see the BSP (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) slashing
RRR (reverse repo rate) further in the first quarter followed by
a possible policy rate cut in the second quarter to help bolster
growth for the second half of the year," Nicholas Mapa, a senior
economist with ING, said in a note.  
    The benchmark Philippine stock index rose 0.9 percent
to its highest close in over 10 months, buoyed by financials and
industrials.
    Index heavyweights Universal Robina Corp and Bank
of the Philippine Islands gained 3.5 percent and 2.1
percent, respectively.
    Malaysian stocks rose 0.3 percent after data showed
lower-than-expected December inflation and the central bank held
rates. 
    The consumer price index rose 0.2 percent in
December from a year earlier, below the 0.4 percent forecast in
a Reuters poll.
    The central bank kept its key interest rate at 3.25 percent
as widely expected and said the economy was expected to remain
on a steady growth path in 2019.
    Materials and financials were among the top gainers with
Malayan Banking Bhd rose 0.8 percent, while Petronas
Chemicals Group Bhd  firmed 1.2 percent. 
    Meanwhile, a trading mishap in Singapore's Jardine Matheson
Holdings Ltd sent the benchmark stock index
down as much as 0.6 percent before it recovered.
    Shares of Jardine Matheson briefly tanked 83.5 percent,
losing nearly $41 billion in market value, before recovering in
what traders said was likely a "fat finger" error when 167,500
shares changed hands at $10.99 compared to Wednesday's close of
$66.47.
    Jardine Matheson closed 0.5 percent higher. 
            
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SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS
    
 Change on the day                                
 Market                 Current   Previous close  Pct Move
 Singapore              3190.73   3171.11         0.62
 Bangkok                1620.53   1617.38         0.19
 Manila                 8064.9    7989.65         0.94
 Jakarta                6466.655  6451.17         0.24
 Kuala Lumpur           1693.59   1688.14         0.32
 Ho Chi Minh            908.79    908.18          0.07
                                                  
 Change so far in 2019                            
 Market                 Current   End 2018        Pct Move
 Singapore              3190.73   3068.76         3.97
 Bangkok                1620.53   1563.88         3.62
 Manila                 8064.9    7,466.02        8.02
 Jakarta                6466.655  6,194.50        4.39
 Kuala Lumpur           1693.59   1690.58         0.18
 Ho Chi Minh            908.79    892.54          1.82
 
 (Reporting by Shreya Mariam Job in Bengaluru; Editing by
Subhranshu Sahu)
  
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