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Southeast Asia Stocks: Slump on U.S.-China row over Hong Kong, trade deal uncertainty

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11/21/2019 | 05:12am EST
A Singapore Exchange (SGX) sign sits outside its premises at the central business district in Singapore

Southeast Asian stock markets opened sharply lower on Thursday as the United States and China sparred over U.S. bills on Hong Kong and concerns emerged that an interim trade deal may not be signed this year.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed two bills on Wednesday backing pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, which President Donald Trump is expected to sign into law.

Sapping investor sentiment further, trade experts and people close to the White House said completion of an initial trade agreement could slide into next year, as Beijing and Washington were unable to agree to terms of tariff rollbacks.

Philippines shares fell more than 1% to their lowest level in almost six weeks, dragged by blue chips Aboitiz Power Corp and Ayala Corp, which skidded 1.7% and 1.5%, respectively.

Singapore stocks slid 1.2% in early trade to a more than three-week low. The market recovered slightly later as data showed the city-state's economy dodged recession and grew better than expected in the third quarter.

Singapore's GDP rose 0.5% year-on-year, beating the government's advance estimate and matching the growth forecast in a Reuters poll.

Liu Jinshu, director of research at Tayrona Capital Pte Ltd, said he expected losses to narrow further, given the market's resilience and low volatility so far.

"In terms of yield, our local banks are pretty attractive," he added. 

The Singapore stock market has been the region's second best performer this year after Vietnam, racking up a near 5% gain.

Indonesian equities slipped by 0.6%, with financials weighing on the index ahead of the Bank Indonesia's policy meeting later in the day.

Most analysts expect the central bank to leave policy rates unchanged, having cut rates four times back to back this year.

"A patient pause will afford BI scope to ease further in 2020 should global headwinds to growth pick up, while inflation is likely to stay within target," ING analysts said in a note.

Malaysian shares dropped 0.7% to their lowest since Nov. 1, while Thai stocks declined for a third straight session.

(Reporting by Arundhati Dutta; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

By Arundhati Dutta

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
ABOITIZ POWER CORPORATION End-of-day quote.
AYALA CORPORATION End-of-day quote.
POWER CORPORATION OF CANADA 1.31% 34.08 Delayed Quote.1.88%
VIETNAM HOLDING LIMITED -1.15% 172 Delayed Quote.-1.14%
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