SE Asia Stocks-Rise as Fed official stokes rate-cut bets

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 * Trade optimism also boosts sentiment * Fitch upgrades Thailand outlook * Philippines benefits from financials By Soumyajit Saha July 19 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets rose on
Friday after a top Federal Reserve official almost sealed the
chance of a U.S. rate cut later this month, with Thailand
leading the pack as Fitch upgraded the country's outlook. New York Fed President John Williams said on Thursday
policymakers need to act quickly and cannot wait for economic
problems to materialise to add stimulus, in comments that the
market took as further assurances of rate cuts at the end of the
month. A Fed representative's clarification that the speech did not
concern potential policy actions and was based on 20 years of
research failed to dampen risk sentiment. The market interpreted the Fed official's comments as
dovish, ING group said in a note to clients, adding that the "go
ahead on rate cut is seen to boost risk-taking in Asia". Leading the charge in Southeast Asia, Thai stocks firmed 0.7%, helped by gains in financials. Credit rating agency Fitch upgraded its outlook on Thailand
to "positive" from "stable", saying the revision reflected increasing confidence that "lingering political risks are
unlikely to derail sound macroeconomic management." Lenders Siam Commercial Bank and Kasikornbank PCL were up 1.4% each. Broader market sentiment was further sweetened by news that
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and trade representative
Robert Lighthizer spoke with their Chinese counterparts over the
phone in a bid to reach a trade deal. Indonesian shares rose, helped by the financial
sector. Bank Central Asia and Bank Rakyat Indonesia
(Persero) gained as much as 1% and 0.9%, respectively. An index of the country's 45 most liquid stocks
was up 0.4%. Philippine stocks advanced, driven by the real estate
and banking sectors. Property developer SM Prime Holdings rose 1.3%, while lender BDO Unibank was up
1%. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS as at 0319 hrs Change on the day Market Current Previous close Pct Move Singapore 3374.25 3361.05 0.39 Bangkok 1735.85 1723.44 0.72 Manila 8306.14 8258.05 0.58 Jakarta 6431.52 6403.294 0.44 Kuala Lumpur 1656.95 1648.93 0.49 Ho Chi Minh 981.26 976.05 0.53 Change so far in 2019 Market Current End 2018 Pct Move Singapore 3374.25 3068.76 9.95 Bangkok 1735.85 1563.88 11.00 Manila 8306.14 7,466.02 11.25 Jakarta 6431.52 6,194.50 3.83 Kuala Lumpur 1656.95 1690.58 -1.99 Ho Chi Minh 981.26 892.54 9.94 (Reporting by Soumyajit Saha; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu) 

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