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SE Asia: Stocks retreat; Indonesia falls nearly 2% after reports of explosions


[BANGKOK] Southeast Asian stock markets fell on Thursday following weakness in Asian shares and steep losses in the US stocks, with Indonesia sliding nearly 2 per cent in line with a weaker rupiah after news of explosions in central Jakarta.

Jakarta composite index was down 1.7 per cent at its lowest since Dec 21 while the rupiah fell to 13,960 level. Astra International, the most actively traded stock, dropped 3 per cent after weak automobile sales data was out.

Investors awaited the central bank's interest rate decision later in the day, with a Reuters poll expecting policy rate cut to boost growth.

The central bank confirmed it would continue with its policy meeting despite explosions that took place less than two kilometres from its office in central Jakarta.

Singapore slid 1.9 per cent tracking a two percent decline in MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan while US stocks sank due to concerns over weak oil prices, US corporate earnings and the global economy.

Shares related to energy sector fared the worst, with Keppel Corporation Ltd and Sembcorp Marine Ltd were among the top losers.

"We remain cautious regarding oil and gas counters as they are susceptible to contract cancellations," stated broker NRA Capital in a report.

In Bangkok, the SET index was down 1.3 per cent, with rallying banking shares retreating. Kasikornbank fell 1.8 per cent after notching up gains of 13 per cent for four sessions, ahead of its 2015 earnings release, which is due next week.

"After two sessions of strong rebound, the SET may have some pullback on Thursday, along with renewed risk aversion in global equities," broker KGI Securities stated in a report.

Malaysia hit the lowest since Dec 22, the Philippines fell after two sessions of gain and Vietnam at one point touched its lowest since Aug 26.