Southeast Asia stocks: Indonesia cuts losses after surprise rate trim
|08/22/2019 | 06:26am|
(Reuters) - Indonesian stocks cut losses to close slightly lower on Thursday as a surprise interest rate reduction by the central bank calmed investors worried about a possible economic slowdown, while Philippine shares extended falls to their lowest close in nearly a week.
Bank Indonesia (BI) cut key rates for a second month in a row, this time by 25 basis points to 5.5%, saying it was acting pre-emptively in anticipation of a global economic slowdown.
The central bank said it would continue with an "accommodative policy mix", but ING senior economist Nicholas Mapa said he expected "BI to monitor closely the next moves of the U.S. Federal Reserve as well as the stability of rupiah before seriously considering further rate cuts in the near term".
The key Jakarta stock index <.JKSE> recovered from early falls to trade in positive territory after the rate-cut news, before ending down 0.2%.
Materials and telecom stocks weighed the most, with Indocement Tunggal Prakarsa Tbk PT slipping 2.4% and Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Persero) Tbk PT falling 0.5%.
Broader Asia was also down as investors looked at central banks in hopes for stimulus to shore up economic growth, while uncertainty over the outlook for U.S. interest rate cuts lingered. [MKTS/GLOB]
Minutes of the Fed's July meeting released on Wednesday showed deep splits among policymakers over whether to cut interest rates last month, raising the stakes for Chair Jerome Powell's speech at a gathering of global policymakers on Friday.
Philippine stocks <.PSI> declined for a second straight session, dragged by property stocks as China urged the country to ban online gaming after welcoming its move to stop accepting applications for online gaming licences.
Office landlords with significant exposure to Philippine offshore gaming operators, including Megaworld Corp, D.M. Wenceslao & Associates, and Filinvest Land were heavily sold down by investors, RCBC Securities said in a note. Megaworld slumped 8.5% and DMW fell 4.6%.
Malaysian stocks <.KLSE> rose 0.5%, with IOI Corp Bhd adding 1.7% and Misc Bhd gaining 1%.
Singapore equities <.STI> edged higher ahead of July inflation data due on Friday.
Core inflation likely eased to its slowest pace in nearly three years last month, a Reuters poll showed, reinforcing hopes that the central bank would loosen policy later this year. Singapore Telecommunications Ltd rose 1.6% and conglomerate Jardine Matheson Holdings added 1.4%.
(Reporting by Niyati Shetty in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)
By Niyati Shetty