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SEA markets down on Fed hike and plans for more hikes


SOUTH-EAST Asian stock markets ended lower on Thursday with Indonesia falling the most, after the US Federal Reserve raised the key interest rate and retained plans for continued hikes next year, crushing investor hopes for a more dovish outlook.

Regional stocks fell in line with broader Asian peers, after the US central bank hiked rates for the fourth time this year and stuck by its plan to keep withdrawing support from an economy it views as strong.

"Against the backdrop of the trade war and weak economic data from major economies, people were hoping the Fed would extend a lifeline," said Fio Dejesus, an equity research analyst at RCBC Securities in Manila. "But their mandate was different from what the market hoped for."

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Recent disappointing data from the US on slowing of job growth in November and a cooling housing market, along with weak manufacturing data from China heavily weighed on investor sentiment, sparking concerns over global growth.

The Indonesian index finished lower and was the worst performer in the region, with financial stocks coming under pressure. Shares of Bank Central Asia and Bank Mandiri (Persero) were among top losers, falling 2.2 per cent and 1.7 per cent, respectively.

Thailand's energy-heavy index suffered an additional blow after oil prices resumed their fall on Thursday amid worries of a supply glut and gloomy outlook for demand. Shares of oil and gas explorers PTT PCL and PTT Exploration and Production PCL shed 0.5 per cent and 1.7 per cent, respectively.

Singapore's index gave up modest gains early in the session to end lower, with shares of port operator Hutchison Port Holdings Trust losing 1.9 per cent, while agribusiness operator Wilmar International ended 1 per cent lower.

The Malaysian index edged lower with Sime Darby Plantation closing 1.4 per cent down and IHH Healthcare ending 2.6 per cent lower.

Vietnam's index traded sideways through most of the session to edge down at the close.

The Philippine index lost the most during early trade but pared losses to inch down at the close. Industrial stocks were the biggest drag on the index, with shares of sector heavyweight SM Investments closing 2.1 per cent lower. REUTERS