Stocks advance

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    Most Southeast Asian stock markets ended a turbulent week in largely positive territory on Friday as investors turned their attention toward economic data from the United States, while Philippines fell on bleak trade print in November.

    US non-farm payrolls in December, expected later in the day, are likely to increase by 164,000, according to a Reuters survey, compared with a surge of 266,000 in the previous month.

    The data comes ahead of the anticipated signing of a Phase 1 trade deal between the United States and China on Jan. 15, with investors hoping this could ease tensions between the world’s two largest economies that has hampered global growth.

    “With US economic growth mostly dependent on the consumer, a healthy labor market is crucial to any constructive “risk-on” narrative,” said Stephen Innes, a market strategist at AxiTrader.

    Malaysia’s benchmark index ended the week 1.2 percent lower, after posting five straight weekly gains.

    Industrial production index rose 2 percent in November from a year earlier, while palm oil production in Malaysia, the world’s second-largest palm producer, fell 13 percent on-month in December, its lowest since June 2018. Telecom and utility firms dragged the index, with Axiata Group losing 1.9 percent, while Petronas Gas fell 0.9 percent.

    The Philippine bourse trimmed most of its losses from earlier in the session to end 0.3 percent lower.

    Data showed the country’s trade deficit widening to $3.34 billion in November from previous month’s deficit of $3.25 billion, with the exports falling 0.7 percent from last year.

    Ayala Land shed 1.4 percent, while industrial conglomerate JG Summit Holdings led declines in the industrial sector, losing 2.8 percent.

    Vietnam stocks ended at a six-week high, lifted by major gains in financial sector. Vietnam JSC Bank for Industry and Trade and Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam gained 4.9 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively. – Reuters