Southeast Asia stocks: Vietnam, Singapore lead gains on trade deal hopes

By Reuters   March 4, 2019 | 02:19 am PT
Southeast Asia stocks: Vietnam, Singapore lead gains on trade deal hopes
People walk past the stock exchange center in Hanoi. Photo by Reuters
Vietnam and Singapore shares led gains in Southeast Asia on Monday, lifted by growing signs that the U.S. and China could end a long-drawn tariff row.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that Washington could lift most or all of its tariffs on Beijing, while a summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to sign a final trade deal could happen later this month. 

Investors will now turn their focus to China's annual parliamentary meeting this week, which may unveil more stimulus measures to prop up its slowing economy, along with details on economic growth targets for the year. 

Vietnam shares climbed 1.5 percent, buoyed by real estate and financial stocks. Vinhomes JSC firmed 2.4 percent, while Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam advanced 2.3 percent.   

Singapore shares closed 1 percent higher, boosted by financials and industrials. DBS Group Holdings Ltd, the country's biggest lender, gained 1.7 percent, while Jardine Strategic Holdings rose 1.8 percent. 

Philippine shares snapped three sessions of losses, supported by consumer and financial stocks.

Annual inflation is forecast to have slowed to a one-year low of 4.0 percent in February, a Reuters poll showed, due to cheaper food and fuel prices, and a strong peso. Inflation was 4.4 percent in January, staying outside the central bank's target range of 2-4 percent since March last year.

Malaysian shares, which have been the region's worst performer so far this year, extended losses into a fifth session, shrugging off better-than-expected January trade data.

The country reported a trade surplus of 11.5 billion ringgit ($2.82 billion) for January, compared with the 10.4 billion ringgit registered in the previous month, driven largely by higher shipments of manufactured and mining goods. 

Bank Negara Malaysia will likely keep its benchmark overnight rate at 3.25 percent at a policy review on Tuesday, a Reuters poll showed, even as consumer prices on an annual basis fell in January for the first time in nearly a decade.  

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