SE Asia stocks close lower, Philippine index slides over 2%

Most Southeast Asian stock markets fell on Wednesday ahead of the US Federal Reserve's policy decision, with Thailand dropping 0.52% and Philippines losing over 2%.

Later in the day, the Federal Reserve is expected to hike its interest rates for the second time this year after a move in March, but the bigger question for investors is the outlook for future monetary tightening amid an ongoing economic expansion.

The European Central Bank at its policy meeting on Thursday will debate on whether to end a 2.55 trillion euro bond purchase scheme this year as inflation and growth pick up.

Thai shares fell after two sessions of gains.

The Stock Exchange of Thailand main index eased 8.95 points or 0.52% to end at 1,718.34, in trade worth 43 billion baht.Thai shares fell after two sessions of gains.

Philippines, the biggest loser in the region, closed 2.2% lower, with SM Investments Corp, JG Summit Holdings Inc and Ayala Corp shedding more than 3% each.

The Philippine peso touched its lowest since June 2006 on concerns over the country's high inflation rates.

Nestor Espenilla, the country's central bank governor, said the bank

would consider not just recent inflation data but all potential drivers of future inflation when it reviews monetary policy next week.

A weaker peso has increased forex risk for investors holding local securities, especially for those converting it back into the dollar, said Fio De Jesus, an equity research analyst with RCBC Securities in Manila.

"I think its more of the peso and the Fed that is moving the market." 

Singapore shares closed at their lowest level in two months led by United Overseas Bank Ltd, DBS Group Holdings Ltd and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp Ltd, all ending more than 1% lower. 

Vietnam, the sole gainer in the region, ended higher for a ninth session in ten, while Indonesian financial markets are closed until June 19 for Eid Al-Fitr.


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