SE Asia Stocks-Indonesia rises on surprise trade surplus, Philippines ends higher

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 * Indonesia jumps after first trade surplus in 5 months * Indonesia posts 3rd day of gains, rises 1.2 pct for week * Philippines makes U-turn, rises as Jan remittances up 4.4
pct * Vietnam snaps 3 sessions of gains, but gains 1.9 pct
during week By Rashmi Ashok March 15 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stocks advanced on
Friday, with Indonesia gaining after the nation posted a
surprise trade surplus in February, while Philippines erased
losses to end higher as January remittances rose. Indonesian stocks jumped 0.8 percent, gaining 1.2
percent during the week, after the country posted its first
trade surplus in five months in February, as imports
unexpectedly fell sharply, according to data from the statistics
bureau. The country had a surplus of $329.5 million in February,
compared with a Reuters poll prediction of a $700 million
deficit. "The slowdown in imports doesn't necessarily mean that
domestic demand is weak. I think part of it is due to the impact
of the policymakers' efforts to reduce imports, like selected
infrastructure projects... it appears that what they are doing
is now having its impact," said Leo Putra Rinaldy, economist at
PT Mandiri Sekuritas. Indonesia has been struggling to reduce its trade deficit,
after it hit a record high of $8.5 billion last year, with
authorities raising import taxes and relaxing export rules to
narrow the gap. Meanwhile, Philippine stocks reversed course, wiping
out the day's loss of 0.6 percent to close with as much gains. The index was boosted by real estate stocks, with SM Prime
Holdings Inc and Ayala Land Inc rising 3.5
percent and 0.7 percent, respectively. Fortunes of the index changed after data released by the
Philippine Central Bank showed that the country's January
remittances rose 4.4 percent from the previous year to $2.484
billion. Noting that median estimates had pegged growth to settle at
4 percent for January, ING said in a note, "Remittances continue
to provide a steady stream of foreign currency but have yet to
break out of the 3-5 percent growth range they have been stuck
in recent years." The data appeared to help the market shake off the subdued
sentiment that had prevailed after the Philippines on Wednesday
cut its 2019 GDP growth target, citing a delay in final
legislative approval of the budget. Malaysian stocks also rose, with food products
manufacturer Nestle (Malaysia) Berhad gaining 0.5
percent and lender Hong Leong Bank Bhd adding 2.6
percent. Vietnam index edged lower, snapping three straight
sessions of gains, but was the best performer during the week,
gaining about 1.9 percent. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS Change on the day Market Current Previous close Pct Move Singapore 3200.18 3197.92 0.07 Bangkok 1625.57 1635.88 -0.63 Manila 7798.28 7750.42 0.62 Jakarta 6461.183 6413.266 0.75 Kuala Lumpur 1680.54 1674.52 0.36 Ho Chi Minh 1004.12 1008.44 -0.43 Change so far in 2019 Market Current End 2018 Pct Move Singapore 3200.18 3068.76 4.28 Bangkok 1625.57 1563.88 3.94 Manila 7798.28 7,466.02 4.45 Jakarta 6461.183 6,194.50 4.31 Kuala Lumpur 1680.54 1690.58 -0.59 Ho Chi Minh 1004.12 892.54 12.50 (Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru; Editing by Shreejay
Sinha) 

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