* Drop in Singapore shares a "knee-jerk reaction" to Wall
* Vietnam posts fourth straight day of losses
* Thailand closes at its lowest since Aug 25, 2017
By Rashmi Ashok
Dec 18 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets ended lower
on Tuesday, with Malaysian shares touching their weakest close
in nearly two years, after heightened worries about global
growth stoked a sell-off on Wall Street.
Investors found little solace in Chinese President Xi
Jinping's speech at the 40th anniversary of China's move toward
market liberalisation, as he called for implementation of
reforms but offered no new specific measures.
MSCI's broadest index of Asian shares ex-Japan
dipped 0.9 percent in mid-afternoon trade, as
worries dented risk sentiment and sent investors scurrying away
from risky assets.
Singapore stocks, the region's worst performer,
reversed course from previous session to end 2.2 percent weaker,
with financials underpinning losses.
"I don't think this slump will last as it was reportedly due
to a fund liquidation activity," Liu Jinshu, director of
research at NRA Capital, said, terming the sharp drop as a
"knee-jerk reaction" to the slump in Wall Street.
The Federal Reserve is widely expected to raise interest
rates on Wednesday, which would be its fourth hike this year.
Markets will scrutinise the Fed's two-day policy meeting, which
starts on Tuesday, for its sense of how the economy is holding
up amid a U.S.-China trade conflict and global financial market
"We may see a relief recovery as people await the latest Fed
decision," Jinshu added.
Malaysian stocks pared early losses to their lowest
close since Dec 28, 2016, with Sime Darby Plantation Berhad
being the biggest percentage loser on the index.
Vietnam's index closed at its fourth straight session
of declines, dragged down by real estate and consumer stocks.
Vietnam Dairy Products Joint Stock Co lost 1.6
percent, while insurance provider Baoviet Holdings
closed 4.7 percent weaker.
Philippine shares closed 1.3 percent lower, dented by
industrial and financial stocks, with conglomerate SM
Investments Corp ending 2.1 percent weaker.
Thailand shares extended losses into a fourth
session, closing at their lowest since Aug 25, 2017.
Energy stocks, the biggest drag on the index, notched losses
after oil prices dropped for a third session on reports of
growing inventory and forecast of record U.S. shale output.
In Indonesia, the benchmark index posted its third
straight session in the negative terrain, with financial stocks
being the main laggards.
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SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS
Change on the day
Market Current Previous close Pct Move
Singapore 3045.54 3114.25 -2.21
Bangkok 1583.19 1601.48 -1.14
Manila 7420.4 7520.4 -1.33
Jakarta 6081.867 6089.305 -0.12
Kuala Lumpur 1635.31 1641.62 -0.38
Ho Chi Minh 927.25 933.65 -0.69
Change on year
Market Current End prev yr Pct Move
Singapore 3045.54 3402.92 -10.50
Bangkok 1583.19 1753.71 -9.72
Manila 7420.4 8,558.42 -13.30
Jakarta 6081.867 6,355.65 -4.31
Kuala Lumpur 1635.31 1796.81 -8.99
Ho Chi Minh 927.25 984.24 -5.79
(Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry