South-east Asia stocks end up as chances of US rate hike abate

BENGALURU (REUTERS) - Most South-east Asian stock markets ended higher on Monday as poor US economic growth data last Friday tempered expectations about a possible interest rate hike by the Fed in the next few months.

US gross domestic product rose 1.2 per cent in the April-June period, less than half the 2.6 per cent growth economists had expected. New York Fed President William Dudley said the Fed should be cautious in raising rates due to lingering risks to the US economy.

The likelihood of the US not raising rates any time soon puts Asia in a better light as growth rates in the region are higher than expected, said Grace Aller, an analyst with Manila-based AP Securities.

Singapore shares extended gains, with the benchmark Straits Times Index rising 23.8 points or 0.83 per cent at 2,892.5, led by Jardine Cycle & Carriage, which rose S$2.42 or 6.17 per cent to S$41.65.

Indonesian shares closed up 2.8 per cent at their highest in fifteen months, driven by financial and telecom stocks. "People are buying heavily into the blue chips that posted big losses last Friday," a trader said.

Indonesia's annual inflation rate in July eased slightly from the previous month, the country's statistics bureau said on Monday.

The Philippines climbed more than 1 per cent led by financials and industrial stocks.

Property developer SM Prime Holdings was among the top gainers in the index, rising as much as 2.7 per cent after posting a 12 per cent rise in first-half core net income.

Thailand ended down dragged by financials and healthcare stocks such as Bangkok Dusit Medical Services Public Company Ltd.

Thailand's annual headline consumer prices rose for a fourth straight month in July, driven by higher prices of food and cigarettes, the Commerce Ministry said on Monday.

The Thai central bank is expected to leave its policy rate unchanged at 1.50 per cent when the policy committee meets on Aug 3, according to a Reuters poll.

Vietnam fell as July factory growth dipped to 4-month low after orders slowed.