Aug 10 - Southeast Asian stock markets were cautious on Wednesday on subdued risk sentiment, as Chinese policymakers appeared to have disparate opinions regarding their monetary policy, while fading optimism regarding oil also added to the negative sentiment.
Last week, a research office at China's top economic planner called for the central bank to cut interest rates and bank reserve requirements, but later removed the remarks in an updated statement posted on its website.
Investors have been closely watching the country's bureaucracy for signs of policy dissent since May, when the People's Daily quoted an "authoritative person" warning of a financial crisis if the government relied too much on debt-fuelled stimulus to spur the economy.
"Risk sentiments are not particularly strong. Further, China data is expected to be on the softer side and there isn't much of a policy relief story going on in China," said Vishnu Varathan, a senior economist with Mizuho Bank. "PBOC (People's Bank of China) is quite coy to put in extra stimulus."
China's industrial output, retail sales and urban investment figures for July will be announced on Friday.
Meanwhile, global oil prices dropped on improved prospects for U.S. output and a glut in refined products.
"Oil prices are struggling to find traction. Markets are not going to chase commodity stocks in the near term," Varathan said.
Vietnam outperformed other markets in the region with a gain of 1.7 percent, led by financials.
"Gains in Vingroup and Hoa Phat created positive sentiment. Money flowed mostly into blue chips, which in the short term could continue attracting more inflows," said Nguyen The Minh, associate director at Saigon Securities Inc.
Singapore shares gained 0.2 percent, driven by financials and industrials, ahead of the release of GDP data on Thursday.
Indonesian shares edged lower, dragged down by financials and telecommunication services, while Philippine stocks closed relatively flat, shrugging off a drop in June exports.