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Southeast Asia stocks: Most end firmer on Trump's trade concession; Indonesia leads

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08/14/2019 | 12:35 pm
(Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets ended higher on Wednesday, in line with global peers, after Washington delayed some tariffs on Chinese imports in much-needed relief for financial markets gripped in economic turmoil.

The decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to selectively delay the tariffs that were set to go into effect on September. 1, doused friction between the two countries that has roiled global markets. Trump administration delayed duties on cellphones, laptops and other consumer goods in the hopes of blunting their impact on U.S. holiday sales.

"The question now is how far will this relief rebound go? A partial tariff delay is not going to solve the core issues between the U.S. and China," Margaret Yang, a market analyst at CMC Markets said in a note to clients.

"Markets will perhaps soon come down to earth and face the reality of a world of elevated trade tariffs, slower growth and policy inconsistency," the note added.

Indonesian shares <.JKSE> rebounded from previous session's losses to lead gains in the region, underpinned by banking stocks. Bank Rakyat Indonesia (Persero) and Bank Mandiri (Persero) closed up 1.2% and 1.4%, respectively.

The Philippine index <.PSI> ended at its highest in a week, helped by financial and consumer shares.

Branded food and beverage company Universal Robina Corp closed 4% firmer, while shares in real estate company Ayala Land ended up 3.5%.

Meanwhile, Singapore stocks <.STI> flitted between positive and negative territory before ending the session flat, as gains in the financial sector offset losses in the consumer sector.

"Investors are still very cautious and sentiment has been weakened by recent downgrades to economic forecast, and that has impacted upward momentum," Liu Jinshu, director of research at Singapore-based Tayrona Financial Pte Ltd said.

The city-state had trimmed its full-year expected growth range on Tuesday to zero to 1% from a previous forecast of 1.5%-2.5%, citing worsening global conditions.

Agribusiness company Wilmar international ended down 4.7% after it reported a 52% drop in its quarterly profit after market hours on Tuesday, while lender DBS Group Holding closed 0.7% firmer.

Thai shares, which were the biggest gainers for most of the session, ended marginally lower after Kasikornbank PCL slumped to its lowest level in over three years.

The Thai lender said it will cut its retail lending rates by 25 basis points, becoming the first bank to follow last week's surprise easing by the central bank.

(Reporting by Soumyajit Saha, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

By Soumyajit Saha

Thomson Reuters 2019
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