US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is seen as he and a US delegation for trade talks with China arrive at a hotel in Beijing on Thursday. (Reuters photo)
Southeast Asian stock markets slipped on Thursday as US-China trade tension hurt investor risk appetite, with Indonesia sinking to an over seven-month closing low as foreign investors continued to trim their equity exposure.
A US trade delegation arrived in China for talks on tariffs. State media said China will stand up to US bullying if need be, but it was better to work things out at the negotiating table.
The discussions are expected to cover a wide range of US complaints about China’s trade practices, from accusations of forced technology transfers to state subsidies for technology development.
“International pressure to avoid a trade war, and Beijing’s restraint are perhaps a consolation; and in fact worst-case (broad-brush tariff) scenarios may be avoided,” Mizuho Bank said in a note.
Indonesian shares snapped a three-session gaining streak and ended 2.6% lower dragged down by financials and consumer staples.
Bank Central Asia was the biggest drag, falling 2.6%, while Telekomunikasi Indonesia dropped 3.4%.
Foreign investors net sold US$55.3 million worth of Indonesian stocks on Thursday, according to stock exchange data. In April, they sold securities worth $684 million in equities and $967 million in bonds.
An index of the country’s 45 most liquid stocks declined 3.1%.
Philippine stocks hit a two-week closing low as financials and industrials weighed on the index. SM Investments Corp fell 5% while Aboitiz Equity Ventures dropped 7%.
The Stock Exchange of Thailand index closed marginally lower. The Thai market eased 0.33 points or 0.02% to close at 1,790.80, in trade worth 58.77 billion baht.
Singapore shares retreated from a multi-year high to fall more than 1%.
Financials weighed on the index, with lender DBS Group Holdings falling 4.3%, while Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp shed 1.5%.
Malaysian stocks ended largely flat as gains in materials and consumer stocks were offset by losses in financials.
Index heavyweights Petronas Gas fell 2.3% while Tenaga Nasional rose 1%.