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SE Asia Stocks-Most subdued; Vietnam posts mild gains

Thursday, February 14, 2019, 18:04 GMT+7
SE Asia Stocks-Most subdued; Vietnam posts mild gains
A man walks past a screen at the Indonesia Stock Exchange building in Jakarta, September 6, 2018. Photo: Reuters

Most Southeast Asian markets were muted on Thursday as risk sentiment remained high on hopes for a breakthrough in the trade impasse between United States and China, while Vietnam and Philippines shares posted mild gains in the regional markets.

With the latest round of high-level talks kicking off earlier in the day, investors across Asia were wary of taking on risk, with MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan easing 0.3 percent.

Meanwhile, China's January dollar-denominated exports rose 9.1 percent from a year earlier, while imports dropped 1.5 percent, both beating analysts' expectations, official data showed on Thursday.

Singapore shares shed previous session's gains to trade 0.1 percent lower on Thursday.

Leading banks such as Overseas-Chinese Banking Corp Ltd and United Overseas bank Ltd posted solid gains earlier in the session and were seeing some positioning ahead of their earnings next week.

"Singapore banks' share prices have gained 3.5 percent - 5.7 percent since the start of the year, as better sentiments from a less hawkish U.S. Fed and progress made on the U.S.-China trade talks improve risk appetite," Joanne Goh and Eugene Leow, strategists at DBS Group Research said in a note.

Malaysian shares were largely unchanged after the country said its economy expanded 4.7 percent in the October-December quarter from a year earlier, in line with expectations, ending four quarters of slowing growth.

Indonesian shares traded lower ahead of trade data slated for release on Friday. 

Indonesia likely suffered another wide trade gap in January even though imports probably contracted for the first time since June 2017, a Reuters poll showed.

Meanwhile, Vietnam shares, the biggest gainer in Southeast Asian markets, edged 0.6 percent firmer to their highest since mid-December.

Real estate sector stocks dominated the gains, with property developer Vingroup JSC climbing as much as 3.7 percent to a 10-month high.

Philippine stocks, which were poised to snap a four-day losing streak, were lifted by the financial sector.

Lender BDO Unibank rose up to 1.4 percent, while Bank of the Philippine Islands added 2.2 percent to the index. 

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