Most Southeast Asian markets fall as Sino-U.S. trade deal uncertainty looms

11/08/2019 | 06:11am

Most Southeast Asian markets closed lower on Friday, as a report on internal opposition in Washington to tariff rollback on Chinese goods trumped optimism over the possibility of an interim Sino-U.S. trade deal.

On Thursday, a Reuters exclusive report cited sources saying the agreement between the two sides to roll back tariffs as a part of a "phase one" trade deal faced opposition in the White House.

There is a divide within the administration over whether rolling back tariffs will give away U.S. leverage in the negotiations, the sources said.

"It will be a while before all the tariffs go down ... there are a lot of things that could happen moving forward. Investors are worried, since we know that Trump is very fickle in terms of tariffs policies," said Rachelle Cruz, an analyst at AP Securities.

Singapore's benchmark index closed 0.7% lower, posting its worst session in one month.

The city-state, which relies heavily on electronics shipments for economic growth, is sensitive to the trade disruptions caused by tariffs between the United States and China.

Financial and industrial firms were the biggest drags, with heavyweight Jardine Matheson Holdings losing 2.4%, and Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust shedding 7.4%.

The index, however, posted a fifth consecutive weekly gain.

The Philippine bourse trimmed its losses from earlier in the session to finish 0.1% lower.

DMCI Holdings and Alliance Global Group fell 5.2% and 6%, respectively, after MSCI deleted the two stocks from its global standard indexes as a part of a quarterly index review

"The decline in the index mostly reflects the decrease in the weight of the Philippines in MSCI emerging markets," Cruz said.

Malaysia's benchmark index inched up to close at over two-month high.

Bank stocks rose following an unexpected cut by the central bank of its statutory reserve requirement, to "maintain sufficient liquidity".

CIMB Group Holdings and Public Bank gained 1.9% and 0.4%, respectively.

Indonesian shares ended 0.2% higher, having traded subdued for most parts of the session. The archipelago's central bank forecast an improvement in the country's exports and GDP growth in the fourth quarter.

Coal miner United Tractors added 5.6%, while instant noodles maker Indofood CBP Sukses Makmur advanced 4.4%.

Thai stocks edged lower, with biggest stock on the index PTT PCL closing 1.1% down.

(Reporting by Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)

By Sameer Manekar

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