SE Asia Stocks-Most gain; Philippines drops further to 6-mth low

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 * Philippine shares drop 1 pct; slip below 8,000 level * Indonesia set to break 6-session losing streak * Vietnam on course for eighth straight winning session * Focus on Fed's rate decision, outlook By Aaron Saldanha March 21 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets
recovered on Wednesday ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve's rate
decision and outlook, while the Philippines extended its losses
to hit the lowest in more than six months. The Fed is widely expected to raise rates at its two-day
policy meeting that ends on Wednesday, with the focus mainly on
Chairman Jerome Powell's commentary the next day, which may
provide hints on the number of rate increases for the rest of
the year. Most investors have already adjusted their positions into
fixed income assets, said Rachelle Cruz, the head of research at
AP Securities in the Philippines. Broader Asian shares outside Japan firmed
0.4 percent. Singapore shares inched 0.2 percent higher, led by
financials. United Overseas Bank Ltd contributed the
most to the benchmark, rising 1.2 percent. Indonesian shares gained 0.6 percent, helped by
consumer staples and materials, and was on track to break a
six-session losing streak. The index of the country's 45 most liquid stocks
also firmed 0.6 percent. Malaysian shares gained 0.3 percent, as financials
and consumer staples rose. DiGi.Com Bhd gained as much
as 2.4 percent. Vietnam shares rose 0.8 percent and were on track for
an eighth straight winning session on strength in real estate
stocks and financials. Philippine shares were the region's only losers,
retreating 1 percent. Financials and industrials weighed the
most on the benchmark, which fell below the 8,000 mark to the
lowest since early September. BDO Unibank Inc fell as much as 4.4 percent, the
steepest intraday percentage drop since September 2016. The Philippine central bank's reticence to raise rates puts
the country at a significant disadvantage if the peso weakens
after a potential rate raise by the Fed, analysts say. "Companies suffering in terms of margins would be consumer
companies as a lot of their products are imported from other
countries," said AP Securities' Cruz. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS: Change as at 0357 GMT Market Current Previous close Pct Move Singapore 3520.16 3513.31 0.19 Bangkok 1806.39 1799.84 0.36 Manila 7981.51 8059.6 -0.97 Jakarta 6279.487 6243.577 0.58 Kuala Lumpur 1861.22 1856.39 0.26 Ho Chi Minh 1168.6 1159.39 0.79 Change so far in 2018 Market Current End 2017 Pct Move Singapore 3520.16 3402.92 3.45 Bangkok 1806.39 1753.71 3.00 Manila 7981.51 8558.42 -6.74 Jakarta 6279.487 6355.654 -1.20 Kuala Lumpur 1861.22 1796.81 3.58 Ho Chi Minh 1168.6 984.24 18.73 (Reporting by Aaron Saldanha, Additional reporting by Saif
Naqvi in Bengaluru; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri) 

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