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SE Asia stocks fall on fresh worries of US-China tensions

Southeast Asian stock markets closed lower on Thursday, in line with broader Asia, after the arrest of a top executive of Chinese tech giant Huawei for extradition to the United States stoked fears of an escalation in tensions between the two countries.

The MSCI's ex-Japan Asia-Pacific index fell 2% as the recent development was seen as a blow to US-China relations, deepening scepticism about a potential resolution to a long-running trade war as both parties enter a crucial 90-day truce period.

Investor sentiment was dented further by rising worries of an economic slowdown and a possible rise in US interest rates after the benchmark US treasury 10-year yield hit a three-month low on Wednesday.

"While the global economy is on a gradual slowdown rather than an uncontrolled spiral, the path is on a knife's edge amid US-China trade tensions (notwithstanding a temporary truce), tightening policy and geo-political risks kicking up volatility and uncertainty," said Vishnu Varathan, head, economics and strategy, at Mizuho Bank.

A dip in oil prices on the backdrop of an Opec meeting sent the Stock Exchange of Thailand index 1.11% lower. The index lost 18.59 points to close at 1,653.73, in turnover of 38 billion baht.

Oil prices fell on Thursday as stock markets slid and as traders eyed a meeting of the oil bloc expected to result in a supply cut aimed at draining a glut that has pulled down crude prices by 30% since October.

Index heavyweights PTT Plc and Airports of Thailand Plc were the top drags on the index, shedding 2.4% and 1.5%, respectively. 

The Singapore index fell 1.3%, led by technology stocks.

Singapore Press Holdings Ltd dropped 4.2%, while Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd dipped 2%. 

Philippine stocks fell 1.3% with real estate and financials leading the losses.

SM Prime Holdings Inc dipped 3.5%, while Ayala Corp dropped 2.7%.

Indonesia and Malaysia lost 0.3% each. 

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