* Vietnam shares plunge 2.5 pct, top loser in region
* Philippine stocks worst performer in February
By Shriya Ramakrishnan
Feb 28 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets fell
sharply on Thursday after a U.S. warning that there was still a
long road ahead to resolve trade issues with China, and
Washington and Pyongyang failed to reach an agreement.
U.S. President Donald Trump said he had walked away from a
nuclear deal at a summit in Hanoi with North Korean leader Kim
Jong Un because of unacceptable North Korean demands to lift
punishing U.S.-led sanctions.
Vietnam stocks were the worst hit, ending 2.5 percent
lower as financial and consumer stocks led the decline.
No agreement between Washington and Pyongyang was "part of
the reason and an excuse to sell", said a Hanoi-based trader,
adding that the market had slowed in the past few days after
gaining sharply since the Lunar New Year break.
Vingroup JSC, the country's largest listed firm,
closed down 2.9 percent and Vietnam Dairy Products JSC
dropped 4.5 percent.
Despite posting its worst session in nearly 5 months on
Thursday, the Vietnam benchmark stock index rose 6 percent for
the month, making it the top gainer in Southeast Asia.
A contraction in China factory activity in February and U.S.
Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer's cautious comments about
the prospect of a trade deal with China - the region's largest
trading partner - also dampened sentiment across Asia.
Philippine stocks fell 2.3 percent with all sectors
in the red. Real estate firm Ayala Land Inc fell 1.5
percent, while lender BDO Unibank Inc declined 4.4
Philippine shares lost about 3.8 percent in February, making
them the biggest losers in Southeast Asia.
A dip in financial and material stocks pulled Indonesian
shares down by 1.3 percent.
Indonesia's central bank governor said interest rates could
be lower if stability in the financial system was maintained.
Bank of Indonesia kept rates on hold last week, but said it was
looking at ways to boost loan growth by easing liquidity rules.
Singapore shares fell 1.2 percent with index
heavyweight Jardine Matheson Holdings Ltd ending 3.8
percent lower ahead of its annual results, while Jardine
Strategic Holdings Ltd lost 1.9 percent.
Thai stocks shed 0.7 percent after data showed trade
surplus in Southeast Asia's second-largest economy narrowed in
The central bank governor said that the economy was expected
to slow in the first quarter due to increased external
uncertainty, but will still be on track to hit the full-year
SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCKS
Change on the day
Market Current Previous close Pct Move
Singapore 3212.69 3250.02 -1.15
Bangkok 1653.48 1665.27 -0.71
Manila 7705.49 7889.12 -2.33
Jakarta 6443.348 6525.683 -1.26
Kuala Lumpur 1707.73 1713.45 -0.33
Ho Chi Minh 965.47 990.27 -2.50
Change on year
Market Current End 2018 Pct Move
Singapore 3212.69 3068.76 4.69
Bangkok 1653.48 1563.88 5.73
Manila 7705.49 7466.02 3.21
Jakarta 6443.348 6194.498 4.02
Kuala Lumpur 1707.73 1690.58 1.01
Ho Chi Minh 965.47 892.54 8.17
(Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru, Additional
reporting by Mai Nguyen; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)