SE Asia Stocks: Most fall as investors remain cautious; Singapore recovers

By Reuters   December 18, 2018 | 10:10 am GMT+7
SE Asia Stocks: Most fall as investors remain cautious; Singapore recovers
A woman rides past the Hanoi Stock Exchange building in Hanoi, Vietnam. Photo by Reuters/Kham
Most Southeast Asian stock markets ended lower on Monday as investors cautious after China posted disappointing economic data on Friday.

On the upside, the Singapore benchmark index bucked the weak trend to close 1.2 percent higher, as investors shrugged off worse-than-expected November export data and went bargain hunting after Friday's losses.

"It looks like bargain-hunting, as valuations are at attractive levels," said Joel Ng, an analyst at KGI Securities, pointing to a 20-30 percent fall in Singaporean stocks over the past six months.

Earlier in the day, data showed that the country's exports fell for the first time in eight months on a year-on-year basis in November, with shipments to China, it's biggest market, continuing their slowdown.

Meanwhile, the Indonesia index closed 1.3 percent lower, extending losses, after the country posted its widest monthly trade deficit in over five years in November. 

Southeast Asia's largest economy saw exports of palm oil and pulp slump, while November imports stood at $16.88 billion, up 11.68 percent from a year earlier.

Consumer stocks led losses with household products maker PT Unilever Indonesia Tbk's counter falling 2.3 percent and that of cigarette maker PT Gudang Garam Tbk slipping 2 percent.

The Vietnam index was the worst performer in the region, tumbling 1.9 percent, with all major sectors in the red.

Financials underpinned losses, with shares of Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank) falling 3 percent, and those in Vietnam Technological and Commercial Joint Stock Bank (Techcombank) down 4.4 percent.

Thailand's benchmark index erased initial gains to close 0.5 percent down — its lowest since July 6 — with financial stocks, including those of Siam Commercial Bank PCL and Bank of Ayudhya PCL falling 2.5 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, Thailand's central bank is expected to hike its key interest rate on Wednesday from near-record lows for the first time in more than seven years, a Reuters poll survey showed.

The Malaysian index finished 1.2 percent lower, with shares of palm oil producer Sime Darby Plantation Berhad down 2.9 percent, while those of oil and gas services provider Dialog Group Berhad closing 2.2 percent lower. 

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