Stocks up

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    Most Southeast Asian stock markets shed early losses to close higher, with Singapore leading the pack after Chinese President Xi Jinping revived hopes of reaching an interim trade deal with the United States.

    Investor sentiment turned after Xi said China wants to work out an initial deal and has been working actively to avoid a trade war.

    However, hopes were held in check as US President Donald Trump is soon expected to sign the bills backing pro-democracy Hong Kong protesters into law, stoking fears that the already fragile Sino-US ties may worsen.

    “Thankfully, China appears to be blaming Congress, and not President Trump and his coterie, for the Hong Kong Law. After some initial grumbling, China prefers to concentrate on the more significant issues at hand,” Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at Asia Pacific OANDA, wrote in a note.

    Trade-sensitive Singapore equities rebounded from an over 1 percent tumble in the previous session to end 1.1 percent higher. Conglomerate Jardine Matheson Holdings tacked on 2.5 percent while Jardine Strategic Holdings rose 1.7 percent.

    Philippines markets, which had fallen as much as 1.4 percent earlier in the day to hit a six-week low, recovered in late trade to close flat.

    Thai shares advanced 0.4 percent, lifted by financials. Lenders Siam Commercial Bank and Kasikornbank gained 0.9 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively.

    Malaysian stocks added 0.3 percent, with index heavyweight and electricity retailer Tenaga Nasional rising 0.7 percent.

    However, the Vietnamese index closed at its lowest level in over two months and logged its biggest weekly drop in nearly a year.

    Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam and Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam lost 2.3 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively. – Reuters