SE Asia Stocks-Mixed ahead of Fed meet; Thai index gains

Reuters

Dec 18 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian markets were range-bound

on Wednesday as nervous investors awaited to hear when the U.S.

Federal Reserve would begin unwinding its stimulus programme, a

major driver for global risk assets in recent years.

A better-than-expected report on U.S. house builder

confidence and inflation data suggesting low but stable price

growth, supported the view that economic conditions are adequate

for the Fed to start scaling back its $85 billion monthly

bond-buying.

Bangkok's SET index was up 0.9 percent at 1349.34

points by 0623 GMT despite a weaker baht, led by an over

5.8 percent gain in Advanced Info Service PCL and a

3.1 percent rise in Total Access Communication PCL.

The market's expectation of "not too bad news" from the Fed

meeting and smaller foreign outflows have boosted sentiment,

Teerada Charnyingyong, a Bangkok-based strategist at broker

Phillip Securities, said.

"However, local political uncertainty, especially after the

protest leaders have called for a big demonstration again this

weekend, may cap the index upside at around 1360-1380 for this

week," Charnyingyong said.

The Jakarta Composite Index rose 0.3 percent led by

shares in infrastructure and finance companies, also despite a

fall in the rupiah.

The Philippine index recovered from early losses and

was trading 0.3 percent up at a more-than-one-week high.

Investors have been nervous about when the Fed will start

tapering its $85 billion-a-month bond-buying programme.

A majority of economists polled earlier expected the taper

to start in March, but a recent run of upbeat economic data from

the U.S. has steadily shortened the odds on an announcement to

this week's two-day meeting concluding on Wednesday, or in

January.

Malaysia's share index was down 0.1 percent, from a

record closing high in the previous session.

Singapore's benchmark index was also down 0.1 percent, while

Vietnam eased 0.2 percent led by real estate shares on

investor concerns about the government's sluggish social housing

stimulus package.

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SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS

Change at 0623 GMT

Market Current Prev Close Pct Move

TR SE Asia Index* 388.96 389.57 -0.03

Singapore 3063.75 3067.57 -0.12

Kuala Lumpur 1848.86 1850.90 -0.11

Bangkok 1349.34 1337.18 +0.91

Jakarta 4193.60 4182.35 +0.27

Manila 5944.97 5928.99 +0.27

Ho Chi Minh 504.83 505.67 -0.17

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