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Most Asian markets slip on caution amid volatile global markets


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Reuters: Most Southeast Asian stock markets edged lower on Thursday, signalling caution, as Wall Street’s early gains overnight fizzled out, leaving investors wary of further volatility in the global markets.

US stocks ended lower on Wednesday as bond yields climbed higher, and the threat of rising inflation kept investors on edge over the prospect of more interest rates hikes.

 In Asia trade, the S&P e-mini futures slid 0.3%, suggesting the likelihood of another uncertain session on Wall Street, while MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slipped 0.1%.

Singapore shares gave up early gains of as much as 1.1% and turned marginally lower, on course for a fifth consecutive session of losses.

Lender DBS Group Holdings soared as much as 5% after it posted a 33% rise in its quarterly profit and said an improving interest rate environment would lift net interest margins for the year.

Singapore Telecommunications fell as much as 2% to its lowest in over two years, after it posted a 8.5% drop in quarterly profit.

Philippine shares retreated as much as much 0.8%, as investors remained watchful of the outcome of the country’s central bank meet.

“I think what also added to the movement today is that investors are a bit cautious with the bank meeting today, with the likelihood that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) might raise rates following the inflation figure in January,” said Lexter Azurin, a senior equity analyst at AB Capital. 

Philippine annual inflation accelerated much faster than expected in January, data showed on Tuesday, although BSP Governor Nestor Espenilla maintained that the factors driving inflation are “temporary” and “would eventually stabilise.”

Majority of the analysts polled by Reuters said they expected no change in rates on Thursday, while Mizuho Bank said in a note it expected a preemptive 25 basis points raise to promptly anchor inflation. 

Index heavyweights SM Investments Corp and Universal Robina Corp dragged the index lower, falling as much as 1.2% and 2.3%, respectively.

Meanwhile, Malaysian shares remained largely steady, up as much as 0.2%, with telecom stocks leading the gains.  

Axiata Group Bhd and DiGi.Com Bhd were the top gainers on the index, rising as much as 2% and 1.2%, respectively.

Vietnam shares fell as much as 1.3%, set for a third losing session in four.

Vietnam posted a trade surplus of $181 million in January, contrary to a government estimate which predicted a $300 million deficit, the customs department said on Thursday.


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