SINGAPORE, July 25 — South-east Asian stock markets marked time today ahead of a US Federal Reserve meeting later in the day as investors looked for hints on the timing of the Fed's next policy tightening.
Though the Fed is widely expected to keep interest rates unchanged at the two-day meeting which ends tomorrow, investors will be watching for any fresh hints on whether it might raise interest rates again this year, and when it will begin paring its bond holdings.
“Fed officials... reportedly torn with some wanting to start reducing the portfolio within the year and some wanting to wait for more economic data. As such, analysts are now pricing in less than 50 per cent chance of a third rate hike this year,” said Grace Aller, an analyst with Manila-based AP Securities.
“The scaling back of the frequency of rate hikes should be positive for regional markets since it will lessen the flow from emerging markets to developing markets.”
In South-east Asia, Philippine shares rose as much as 0.5 per cent, before erasing gains to trade flat.
This may be because President Rodrigo Duterte's address lacked "meat" in terms of development in pushing economic reforms, said Lexter Azurin, a senior analyst with Manila-based AB Capital Securities.
“The local market is expected to trade within a thin range this week due to a lack of local catalysts since Q2 corporate earnings will only start to trickle in next week,” said Aller.
Metro Pacific Investments Corp rose as much as 4.2 per cent, while Ayala Land gained 1.4 per cent to a record high.
Singapore shares rose as much as 0.5 per cent, led by financial and telecom stocks. Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp climbed 1.5 per cent, while Singapore Telecommunications gained 0.8 percent to a 16-week high.
Thai shares edged up 0.3 per cent to one-week highs, while Malaysian shares were flat.
Vietnam shares gave up early gains to trade flat. Vietnam National Petroleum Group and Vietcombank were the biggest drags.
Indonesian shares dropped as much as 0.4 per cent, with falls in consumer staples pulling down the index. — Reuters