SINGAPORE, April 21 — South-east Asian stock markets rose today, tracking gains across Asia as investors took heart from a Wall Street rally on bets of strong earnings and tax reform in the United States.
Sentiment was also helped by a recovery in commodity prices. Iron ore and steel futures in China jumped, while Shanghai base metals rose on the back of robust gains in overnight London trading and buoyant equity markets.
Crude oil traded steady, but was set for its biggest weekly drop in about a month.
There was a moderate bid against risky assets, supported by oil price movements and as French elections seemed more predictable, said Taye Shim, head of research at Mirae Asset Sekuritas Indonesia.
French centrist Emmanuel Macron is set to come out on top in the first round of France's presidential election on Sunday as far right leader Marine Le Pen fell further behind him, a poll showed.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump yesterday launched a trade probe against China and other exporters of cheap steel into the US market, raising the possibility of new tariffs.
But shares of most Asian steelmakers rose, deflecting the first salvo of the long-anticipated anti-dumping campaign.
Asian shares excluding Japan rose 0.6 per cent, heading for a second straight session of gains.
Indonesian shares rose 0.6 per cent, helped by gains in consumer and telecom stocks. Conglomerate Astra International Tbk PT was 2.6 per cent higher.
The central bank kept its benchmark rate unchanged yesterday for the sixth straight meeting, saying the current level was consistent with its efforts to maintain stability.
Malaysian shares gained 0.6 per cent with consumer and financial stocks leading near broad-based gains.
Malayan Banking and CIMB Group Holdings were up about 2 per cent each.
Singapore shares rose 0.5 per cent with oil and gas stocks bouncing back, while Thai stocks climbed 0.3 per cent, helped by basic materials.
Thai petrochemical producer Indorama Ventures Pcl climbed 0.7 per cent.
For the week, most South-east Asian stock markets were down. — Reuters