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SE Asia Stocks-Most recover on trade truce hopes; Thailand, Vietnam down

SE Asia Stocks-Most recover on trade truce hopes; Thailand, Vietnam down

Thursday, December 20, 2018, 13:46 GMT+7
SE Asia Stocks-Most recover on trade truce hopes; Thailand, Vietnam down
Visitors stand next to an electronic stock board at the Indonesia Stock Exchange in Jakarta, Indonesia, November 8, 2016. Photo: Reuters

Most Southeast Asian stock markets rose on Wednesday with Indonesia leading the pack on reports of Sino-U.S. trade meetings in January, but Thailand and Vietnam failed to shrug off steep losses of previous session and traded lower.

The trading sentiment in Asia bolstered after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Bloomberg in an interview on Tuesday that United States and China are planning to hold meetings in January to "document an agreement" on trade.

"Positive signals on the trade war front are stabilizing risk in Asia," Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia-Pacific at OANDA, said in a note.

"...while trade remains a work in progress, investors are at least taking some comfort that a resolution roadmap could be in place as soon as March 2019," he added.

The sentiment appeared to slightly improve, with MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan up 0.4 percent in early trade.

But investors remained cautious amid speculation that the U.S. Federal Reserve may end its tightening cycle in its policy meeting scheduled to conclude later on Wednesday, after a sharp fall in oil prices and U.S. President Donald Trump's call to not to "make yet another mistake".

Indonesia's benchmark index rose 0.5 percent to snap three sessions of losses, with material and consumer stocks benefitting most.

Indonesia, which imports a majority of its oil, will likely benefit after oil prices plummeted overnight, slipping more than 5 percent on Tuesday due to fears of a supply glut and falling demand.

Shares of telecom products retailer Global Teleshop Tbk rose 25 percent and those of lender Bank Agris Tbk rose about 24 percent, and were was among top percentage gainers.

Malaysia's index bounced after closing at its lowest level in nearly two years in the previous session, rising 0.8 percent in early trade.

Shares in airport operator Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad gained 0.5 percent, as did those of tourist resort operator Genting Malaysia Berhad, which rose 6.4 percent.

Meanwhile, Malaysia's consumer price index (CPI), which is due later in the day, is expected to rise 0.5 percent in November from a year earlier, a Reuters poll showed, marginally slower than the previous month amid lower transport prices.

Singapore's index edged up after being the region's worst performer in the previous session, with shares of passenger transport service provider ComfortDelGro Corp Ltd adding 1.4 percent.

Thailand's benchmark edged lower with heavyweight energy stocks coming under pressure and accounting for a majority of losses after oil prices plummeted overnight.

Shares of oil and gas company PTT PCL and PTT Exploration and Production PCL, top losers in the sector, lost 1.1 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

Vietnam's index bucked the trend to edge slightly lower. It is on track for its fifth straight day of loss with its real-estate and consumer stocks coming under pressure.

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