Southeast Asian stocks: Indonesia rises, Philippines falls

Published: March 15, 2019 12:17:24 | Updated: April 02, 2019 14:19:13

Southeast Asian stocks were mixed on Friday while Indonesian shares rose after data showed a surprise trade surplus last month, but Philippines stocks fell.

Singapore and Malaysia rose amid reports of progress in Sino-US talks, which somewhat tempered the cautious sentiment gripping the region.

Indonesian stocks jumped 0.6 per cent as imports unexpectedly fell sharply, according to data from its statistics bureau, reports Reuters.

The country had a surplus of $329.5 million in February, compared with a Reuters poll prediction of a $700 million gap.

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.

Financial stocks boosted the benchmark, with Bank Negara Indonesia (Persero) Tbk gaining 2.3 per cent while Bank Central Asia Tbk rose about 0.5 per cent.

Singapore's index rose 0.4 per cent, driven by financial stocks, with DBS Group Holdings rising 0.6 per cent and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp Ltd advancing 0.4 per cent.

Reports of headway in trade talks between China, the region's largest trading partner, and the United States appeared to help sentiment, with broader Asian stocks also on the uptick.

The Malaysian benchmark ticked up, with glove manufacturer Top Glove Corporation Bhd rising 1.6 per cent and food products retailer Nestle (Malaysia) Berhad up 0.4 per cent.

Meanwhile, Philippine stocks slipped 0.5 per cent, dragged by industrial stocks.

Index heavyweights SM Investments Corp and Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc dragged the index, slipping 1.6 per cent and 1.5 per cent, respectively.

Indexes of Thailand and Vietnam edged lower.

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