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SE Asia Stocks-Most rise in hopes of a dovish Fed; Vietnam leads gains

* Indonesia on track for fourth straight session of gains

* Singapore's February non-oil exports rise unexpectedly

* Investor sentiment bolstered ahead of Fed policy meeting

By Shreya Mariam Job

March 18 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets rose

on Monday with Vietnam leading gains, as investor sentiment

buoyed ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve's policy meeting where

the policymakers were expected to remain dovish.

"Investors are likely to tread water today, awaiting the

Fed's policy decision on Wednesday," according to an OCBC note,

A slew of central bank meetings in Indonesia, Philippines and

Thailand in the coming week have also boosted sentiment, it


The U.S. Federal Reserve will remain patient for a little

longer than thought just last month, waiting until the third

quarter before raising rates once more, and then stay on the

sidelines, a Reuters poll of economists showed.

The rigorous rate hike cycle of the Fed last year had put

pressure on most Southeast Asian economies, with especially

Indonesia resorting to aggressive policy tightening in an

attempt to fend the rupiah. The continued dovish stance has

relieved these pressures and fostered risk sentiment in the


The Vietnam index rose 0.6 percent, buoyed by

financial and real estate stocks. Index heavyweights Joint Stock

Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Viet Nam rose 2

percent and 1.2 percent, respectively.

The Indonesian benchmark index rose as much as 0.7

percent rising to its highest in two weeks in early trade, with

financials and consumer stocks boosting the index.

It was up over 0.4 percent after relinquishing some of the

gains, with the country's big lenders Bank Central Asia Tbk PT

and Bank Rakyat Indonesia (Persero) Tbk PT

gaining as much as 1.1 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively.

Singapore stocks rose about 0.4 percent after data

from the trade agency Enterprise Singapore showed a surprise

rise in February exports of the country.

Owing to a surge in China exports, non-oil domestic exports

(NODX) of Singapore rose 4.9 percent in February year-on-year.

Industrials and financials pushed the index higher, with the

country's biggest listed bank DBS Group Holdings Ltd

advancing 0.6 percent and Jardine Strategic Holdings Ltd

firming 0.7 percent.

Utilities and healthcare stocks pushed the Malaysian index

0.4 percent higher with Tenaga Nasional Bhd

rising 1.9 percent and IHH Healthcare Bhd gaining 1.4


Meanwhile, the Thai benchmark slipped into the red

with consumer and industrial stocks dragging the index 0.4

percent lower. CP All PCL and Airports of Thailand

PCL dropped 1.3 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.

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Change on the day

Market Current Previous close Pct Move

Singapore 3211.96 3200.18 0.37

Bangkok 1619.01 1625.57 -0.40

Manila 7801.86 7798.28 0.05

Jakarta 6486.426 6461.183 0.39

Kuala Lumpur 1687.01 1680.54 0.38

Ho Chi Minh 1010.01 1004.12 0.59

Change so far in 2019

Market Current End 2018 Pct Move

Singapore 3211.96 3068.76 4.67

Bangkok 1619.01 1563.88 3.53

Manila 7801.86 7,466.02 4.50

Jakarta 6486.426 6,194.50 4.71

Kuala Lumpur 1687.01 1690.58 -0.21

Ho Chi Minh 1010.01 892.54 13.16

(Reporting by Shreya Mariam Job in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi