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Southeast Asia stocks: Slip on uncertainty over U.S.-China trade talks

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11/19/2019 | 11:57pm EST
A Singapore Exchange (SGX) sign sits outside its premises at the central business district in Singapore

Southeast Asian stock markets fell on Wednesday amid fears that trade talks between Beijing and Washington could be derailed after President Donald Trump threatened fresh tariffs and the U.S. Senate passed a bill aimed at protecting human rights in Hong Kong.

Trump said on Tuesday he had a good relationship with China, noting that Beijing was "moving along." However, he said China would have to make a deal "I like".

Market participants are worried about a further deterioration in relations between the two countries after the Senate unanimously passed a legislation to protect human rights in Hong Kong amid a crackdown on the pro-democracy protest movement.

China on Wednesday condemned the move, asking the United States to stop interfering in Hong Kong and Chinese affairs.

"There are some concerns that it might result in no interim trade deal between the two countries, especially since China is really touchy about the subject," said Rachelle C Cruz, an analyst at AP Securities.

Philippine stocks were the top losers in the region, dragged by Semirara Mining and Power Corp and DMCI Holdings Inc .

Semirara fell as much as 13% after the coal miner was directed by the energy department to suspend all mining activities under a contract immediately, in relation to a mudflow incident in October.

DMCI, which derives around half of its earnings from Semirara, lost nearly 7.9%.

Malaysian equities fell, hurt by losses in large caps like telco Axiata Group and Petronas Gas.

Data showed inflation in October rose 1.1% from a year ago, slightly higher than a 1.0% increase forecast by a Reuters poll.

Mild inflation in recent times and sluggish economic growth in the third quarter amid a slump in exports and mining have fuelled expectations of a rate cut by the central bank early next year.

Trade-sensitive Singapore shares dipped 0.2%, dragged by real estate stocks.

Thai shares fell 0.3%, dragged by oil and gas companies PTT Pcl and PTT Exploration and Production due to a fall in crude oil prices overnight.

(This story refiles to correct 10th paragraph to show poll forecasted Malaysia's Oct inflation at 1.0%, not 1.1%)

By Arundhati Dutta

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
AXIATA GROUP BHD End-of-day quote.
DMCI HOLDINGS INC. End-of-day quote.
PETRONAS GAS BHD End-of-day quote.
PTT EXPLORATION AND PRODUCTION PCL End-of-day quote.
PTT PUBLIC COMPANY LIMITED End-of-day quote.
SEMIRARA MINING AND POWER CORPORATION End-of-day quote.
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