U.S. Markets closed

SE Asia Stocks-U.S. Fed stance on rates spurs relief rally

By Sindhu Chandrasekaran

March 21 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets eked

out small gains on Tuesday as the prospects of a less-hawkish

interest rate policy by the U.S. Federal Reserve helped market

participants overcome concerns of immediate capital outflows

from the region.

Expectations that the Fed would have to step up rate hikes

to counter inflationary pressure from President Donald Trump's

stimulus are also waning after the U.S. central bank dropped no

hints of an acceleration in credit tightening last week.

"There is a little bit more room for the Federal Reserve to

manoeuvre its monetary policy," said Taye Shim, head of research

at Jakarta-based Mirae Asset Sekuritas.

"So, I would not be so stuck with the Fed's guidance of

three rate hikes this year. I think there is still a possibility

that it's going to be two rate hikes this year. For now, I think

the Fed's accommodative monetary stance is enough of a relief to

drive the markets higher."

In Thailand, shares closed 0.3 percent higher, with

energy stocks accounting for nearly half the gains. PTT PCL

ended 1 percent higher.

Indonesian shares were up marginally, rising for

six out of seven sessions, supported by energy and financial

stocks.

Coal miner Baramulti Suksessarana Tbk and PT Bank

Central Asia Tbk both hit record highs.

Philippine shares pared early gains to close slightly

higher, led by industrials. International Container Terminal

Services Inc closed up 3.1 percent.

Malaysia was up 0.3 percent, while Singapore

closed marginally lower.

In Asia, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares

outside Japan was up 0.4 percent as of 1031 GMT.

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SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS

Change on day

Market Current previous Pct Move

close

Singapore 3158.57 3165.7 -0.23

Bangkok 1568.78 1563.54 0.34

Manila 7323.31 7316.57 0.09

Jakarta 5543.093 5533.992 0.16

Kuala Lumpur 1754.67 1749.41 0.30

Ho Chi Minh 716.18 715.07 0.16

Change on year

Market Current End 2016 Pct Move

Singapore 3158.57 2880.76 9.64

Bangkok 1568.78 1542.94 1.67

Manila 7323.31 6840.64 7.1

Jakarta 5543.093 5296.711 4.65

Kuala Lumpur 1754.67 1641.73 6.88

Ho Chi Minh 716.18 664.87 7.7

(Reporting by Sindhu Chandrasekaran; Editing by Biju

Dwarakanath)