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Southeast Asia stocks: Philippines hits over one-month closing low; Indonesia gains

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04/15/2019 | 05:46am EDT
A stockbroker speaks on the phone inside the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) in Makati city, metro Manila

(Reuters) - Philippine stocks closed at their lowest level in more than a month on Monday, as investors locked in profits ahead of the four-day weekend, while Indonesian stocks moved higher buoyed by a surprise trade surplus in March.

The Philippine benchmark fell 1.2 percent to its lowest close since March 14, with a steep sell-off in the last half hour of trade.

Industrials were the biggest drag on the index, with shares of conglomerate Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc dropping 5.1 percent to close at their lowest level since Jan. 2.

"For this week, Philippine market is closed for Thursday and Friday. What we are seeing now is a bit of profit taking because some investors are looking to protect their capital," said Rachelle C Cruz, an analyst with AP Securities.

Shares of Universal Robina Corp were also a major drag, extending losses into a third straight session losing 3.6 percent. The company posted a 15 percent fall in full year net income.

The sentiment toward the stock was also weaker in light of rising competition in the coffee industry, after Mayora Indah Tbk PT, producer of the coffee brand Kopiko, announced investments in Philippines for local manufacturing and processing operations

"In the long run, there might be more competition and that may affect the growth prospects of URC," Rachelle added.

Singapore index edged lower, hurt by industrial and financial stocks.

Jardine Matheson Holdings Ltd and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation Ltd slid 0.2 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, Indonesian shares gained 0.5 percent, snapping three sessions of losses with a surprise trade surplus in March buoying sentiment while political uncertainty ahead of the presidential elections on Wednesday capped gains.

Indonesia posted a surprise trade surplus for a second straight month in March, supporting the central bank's outlook of a narrowing current account deficit, but economists warn a trade deficit could return after Wednesday's presidential elections.

Consumer stocks boosted the index with Charoen Pokphand Indonesia Tbk Pt rising 3 percent and Astra International Tbk Pt firming 1.7 percent.

Thailand and Vietnam markets were closed for a holiday.

(Reporting by Shreya Mariam Job; Editing by Rashmi Aich)

By Shreya Mariam Job

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