SE Asia stocks rise on stronger 2019 GDP hopes

SE Asia stocks rise on stronger 2019 GDP hopes

Singapore on track to snap three straight sessions of losses

The logo of the Singapore Exchange (SGX) pictured at its office in Singapore. Reuters file photo.

Most Southeast Asian stock markets rose on Thursday, with Philippines leading the pack, as investors expected a stronger GDP growth for the archipelago this year after it missed estimates in the last quarter of 2018.

The Philippine benchmark index rose 0.9 percent, buoyed by financial and industrial stocks, despite a slower-than-expected annual GDP growth in the fourth quarter. The country's economy grew 6.1 percent on year in the December quarter of 2018, falling short of expectations of a 6.2 percent rise according to a Reuters poll.

However, analysts expect the GDP growth to improve this year on hopes of a recovery in private consumption. "We are banking on stronger 2019 GDP growth considering this will be an election year, so you might expect a recovery in terms of private consumption," said Miguel Ong, an analyst at AP Securities.

Investors have already priced in the 2018 GDP numbers and are looking forward to this year's figures, Ong added. Shares of index heavyweights Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc and Ayala Land Inc rose as much as 3.6 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, Malaysian stocks rose 0.2 percent, bouncing back from sharp losses in the previous session, following December inflation data. Consumer price index rose 0.2 percent in December from a year earlier, lower than the 0.4 percent rise predicted by a Reuters poll.

Also, the country's central bank is expected to hold key interest rates during their meeting later in the day, according to a Reuters poll. Shares of Petronas Chemicals Group Bhd rose 1.3 percent while those of Tenaga Nasional Bhd rose 0.6 percent. The Singapore benchmark index rose 0.5 percent, on track to snap three session of losses.

Telecommunication and industrial stocks boosted the index with Singapore Telecommunications Ltd's counter rising 0.7 percent while that of Jardine Matheson Holdings Ltd gaining 1 percent. However Vietnam bucked the rising trend, as the benchmark index edged marginally down, hurt by losses concentrated in real estate stocks.