Asean stocks inch higher as investors cheer Fed caution on rates

Philippine shares rise as much as 0.7 per cent, on course for a fourth session of gains, helped by real estate and financial stocks August 17, 2017. — AFP pic
Philippine shares rise as much as 0.7 per cent, on course for a fourth session of gains, helped by real estate and financial stocks August 17, 2017. — AFP pic

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SINGAPORE, Aug 17 — Most South-east Asian stock markets edged up today after investors took heart from the minutes of a US Federal Reserve meeting that showed policymakers wary about weak inflation, indicating that the Fed may slow the pace of rate increases.

Fed policymakers unanimously decided to keep interest rates unchanged at their July 25-26 meeting, the readout of which showed that it was marked by a lengthy discussion about the recent soft inflation readings, with some even calling for a halt to interest rate hikes until it was clear that the trend was transitory.

The US central bank's preferred inflation measure has remained below its 2 per cent target for more than five years.

The markets are reacting to the Fed minutes which are favourable for the regional markets, said Lexter Azurin, a senior analyst with Manila-based AB Capital Securities.

Philippine shares rose as much as 0.7 per cent, on course for a fourth session of gains, helped by real estate and financial stocks. Security Bank Corp rose as much as 2.8 per cent, while Ayala Land gained 1.2 per cent.

"Markets are basically reacting to the second-quarter GDP figures. So, right now the local markets are trying to digest the figures," Azurin said.

The Philippines economy grew a faster-than-expected 6.5 per cent in the second quarter from a year earlier, driven by a strong industrial sector and a recovery in agriculture.

Thailand and Malaysia were up slightly, while Indonesia was closed for holiday.

Singapore fell as much as 0.6 per cent, extending losses for a third straight day, led by financials and telecom stocks.

United Overseas Bank, down as much as 1.3 per cent, hit its lowest in more than a month. — Reuters

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