SET snaps 3 weeks of decline, other SE Asia stocks fall

The Stock Exchange of Thailand index ends higher on Friday. (Reuters photo)

The Stock Exchange of Thailand closed higher, while other Southeast Asian stock markets fell on Friday, as Washington’s tariffs on Chinese goods took effect, escalating fears of a full-blown trade war between the world’s top two economies.

US tariffs on US$34 billion of Chinese imports took effect on Friday, with Beijing saying it had no choice but to respond in kind.

“I think it’s becoming a game of who blinks first,” said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia pacific at Oanda.

A DBS analysis showed that South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan and Singapore are the economies most at risk in Asia, based on trade openness and exposure to supply chains.

The SET index closed 0.83% higher and posted a weekly gain of 1.2%, snapping three weeks of decline.

Singapore shares fell to their lowest close since May 2017, snapping two straight sessions of gain. For the week, they dropped 2.4% in their fourth straight weekly fall.

Financials were the top drag with the city state’s top three lenders shedding more than 2% each.

Several real estate developers also slumped, a day after a surprise government move to tighten curbs on property in a bid to cool the market.

“The new rates will have a larger impact on investment demand. Hence, the outcome of the next few (project) launches will tell us what’s driving demand over the last few months,” said Liu Jinshu, director of research at NRA Capital.

City Developments plunged 15.6%, while UOL Group slumped 13.6%.

Malaysian shares fell 1.6% to their lowest close in nearly 1-1/2-years, dragged by financial and telecom stocks. CIMB Group Holdings and Axiata Group were down 4% and 6.3%, respectively.

For the week, Malaysian shares declined 1.6% in their fourth consecutive weekly drop.

Philippine shares fell 0.7%, weighed down by industrial and real estate stocks, and posted a marginal drop for the week.

Ayala Land slid 2.4% on Friday, while SM Investments Corp was off 1.2%.

Meanwhile, Vietnam shares erased early losses to close 2% higher, led by a rally in financials.

JSC Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank) rose 5.8%, while Vietnam JSC Bank for Industry and Trade (Vietinbank) jumped 6.8%.

Vietnam shares closed 4.5% lower in their fourth straight weekly decline.

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