SE Asia Stocks: Weaker; Malaysia near 2-week lows
BANGKOK, March 12 – Southeast Asian stock markets were weaker today as market players cashed in recent gains in regional big caps on bearish Chinese trade data and awaited signals from a US Federal Reserve meeting tomorrow.
Big name energy shares pulled lower along with global oil prices which fell today for the first time in four sessions amid profit taking.
Singapore’s benchmark Straits Times Index ended down 0.03 per cent in a volatile session while Thailand’s main SET index flip-flopped between gains and losses before closing off 0.74 per cent.
Malaysia’s main index fell 0.9 per cent to the lowest since Feb. 29. Jakarta’s Composite index and the Philippine index each drifted down 0.11 per cent.
Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange’s VN Index lost 0.95 per cent amid concerns over rising inflationary pressure after a fuel price hike continued dominating the market.
Share markets took a breather after a recent run boosted by foreign inflows and by optimism about earnings outlooks of Southeast Asian firms.
Trading volumes were generally light today as investors awaited a new catalyst to push share prices up.
Hong Kong-based Mun Hon Tham, regional strategist of Maybank Kim Eng Securities, said he expected the region to be rangebound in the near term.
“You need the earnings outlook to be upgraded and currently there’s just really no catalyst for that to happen,” he said.
“The overall outlook is still a global economy that’s going very slowly, with a mild recession in Europe. So you can’t argue for a midcycle valuation. Current level seems appropriate, so further upside has to come from earnings.”
Asian shares edged lower today as strong US jobs data tempered expectations of further monetary easing by the Federal Reserve. At 0929 GMT, the MSCI Asia Pacific ex-Japan index eased 0.67 per cent.
Among weak spots, Telekom Malaysia Bhd dropped 2.5 per cent, its biggest daily loss in more than two months, and Indonesia’s biggest firm by market value Astra International Tbk lost 0.6 per cent after a combined 1.5 per cent gain the past two sessions.
Thailand’s top energy firm PTT Pcl dropped 1.4 per cent. Manila-listed Alliance Global Group Inc hit its highest point since January 2011 during the day, but then fell to end down 2.3 per cent.
In Bangkok, the president of Thai stock exchange Charamporn Jotikasthira told reporters future foreign fund flows to Thai market appeared favourable. The bourse had a marketing roadshow in Japan last week. – Reuters