SE Asia marts trim gains

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    Most Southeast Asian stock markets trimmed early gains on Friday as mounting Middle Eastern tensions dented sentiment, while the Philippine index closed 1.3 percent firmer after investors picked up beaten-down stocks.

    Risk appetite across global markets faltered after US airstrikes at Baghdad airport killed Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, heightening geopolitical tensions.

    Most regional markets pulled back from session highs yet ended in the black, with most of them posting solid weekly gains, as a steady growth in China’s production activity and its central bank announcing a cut in banks’ reserve ratio supported the mood.

    Against the backdrop of a thaw in trade tensions between the United States and China, global markets had seen renewed appetite for risk assets.

    “Investors appear to bet that the initial caution will pass, preferring to focus on the broader global recovery story,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst, Asia Pacific at OANDA.

    The Philippine index on Friday rebounded from previous session’s sharp decline to close at its highest in more than a week, underpinned by industrial and consumer stocks. The index gained 0.3 percent for the week.

    “The PSE has managed to bounce from yesterday mainly on bargain hunting after the first day slump,” said Nicholas Antonio Mapa, senior economist at ING.

    Universal Robina Corp and JG Summit Holdings Inc were the top percentage gainers in the benchmark index. – Reuters