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Most SE Asia stocks up, SET best week in 6 months

  • WRITER: REUTERS

Most Southeast Asian stock markets rose on Friday, with Thai shares posting their best weekly gain since mid-March, as trade worries eased after China welcomed an invitation from the United States for a new round of talks.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 1.2% and on track for its best session since late August.

Meanwhile, Turkey's central bank raised its benchmark rate by a hefty 625 basis points on Thursday, thereby strengthening the lira and boosting investor sentiment in emerging markets. 

"The Turkish lira had affected the confidence in regional currencies and regional economies. The surprise interest rate hike has provided enough boost for regional markets", said Manny Cruz, an analyst with Asiasec Equities Inc.

The Stock Exchange of Thailand index rose 4.25 points or 0.25%, with Kasikornbank Plc and PTT Exploration and Production Plc gaining more than 1% each.

The country's finance minister said the government will aim to lift economic growth to 5% this year.

MSCI's broad emerging market stock index which includes Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia gained 1.3%.

Indonesian stocks closed nearly 1.3% higher, with Telekom Indonesia, the biggest contributor, jumping more than 4%. Consumer stocks, Unilever Indonesia and Astra International, were up around 1.5% each.

Southeast Asia's largest economy's trade balance is expected to stay in the red in August although the size of the deficit may have narrowed, a Reuters poll showed on Friday.

Singapore stocks ended 1% higher, extending gains for a third straight session. DBS Group Holdings jumped 1.3% while United Overseas Bank Ltd gained 0.8%.

Philippine stocks, down 1.4%, marked their lowest close since July 23. JG Summit ended 4% lower while Jollibee Foods shed 2.9%.

Thousands of Filipinos have begun evacuating the northern coast of the main island in preparation for a super typhoon.

"The storm, as well as the peso's steady descent in recent weeks to multi-year lows affected market sentiment," Cruz added.

Vietnam stocks ended 0.3% higher, extending gains for a sixth straight day.

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