Southeast Asian stocks mostly dip as trade deficit widens

Published: February 15, 2019 11:38:05 | Updated: February 19, 2019 13:01:24

File Photo (Collected)

Most Southeast Asian stock markets slipped on Friday awaiting developments on the Sino-US negotiations, while Indonesian stocks dropped on disappointing trade data.

Wall Street ended slightly lower, with Asian shares following suit in early trade.

Also weighing on sentiment was softer inflation data from China, which pointed to further cooling in Southeast Asia's largest trading partner, reports Reuters.

In Southeast Asia, Indonesian markets dropped nearly 0.6 per cent to their lowest since Jan. 15, after the country's trade deficit widened in January. The index was set for its worst week since October 2018.

Consumer staples and materials led the declines, with cosmetics maker Unilever Indonesia shedding as much as 1.6 per cent, while cement maker Semen Indonesia dropped up to 3.4 per cent.

Indonesia has been struggling to curb imports to assuage its large trade deficit, which is mostly driven by its reliance on foreign oil.

Singapore stocks slipped as much as 0.5 per cent as financials declined, although consumer stocks curbed further losses.

However, the index was set to gain about 1.3 per cent for the week, owing to firmer banking stocks as investors positioned themselves for potentially positive earnings next week.

The country clocked its slowest pace of GDP growth in more than two years due to a manufacturing slowdown, with the government warning of further headwinds in 2019.

Thai Beverage gained up to 8.0 per cent after its first-quarter profit more than doubled, while lender DBS Group shed as much as 0.6 per cent.

Vietnam stocks, while trading slightly lower for the day, were set to outperform their peers for the week with a 4.7 per cent gain.

The country's stocks usually perform well in the first quarter of the year due to an increased liquidity in the market.

Meanwhile, Malaysian and Philippine shares traded sideways. Malaysian shares were set for a benign week, while the Philippine index was slated to lose about 1.0 per cent after a week of rebalancing.

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