SE Asian stocks rise in line with broader Asia; Vietnam Index gains 1.6%

Southeast Asian stock markets closed higher on Friday, in line with broader Asia, as investor risk appetite got a boost after softer US inflation data soothed worries of faster rate hikes by the Federal Reserve.

According to Reuters report, the US consumer prices rose less than expected in April, suggesting that inflation was increasing at a moderate pace.

“The rally in regional markets reflects the US markets performance last night after the inflation data eased concerns of a possible Fed tightening moving forward,” said Lexter Azurin, a senior equity analyst at Manila-based AB Capital Securities.

Asia shares ex-Japan rose nearly 1%, with investors also cheering US-North Korean steps to further ease tensions in the Korean Peninsula.

In Southeast Asia, Philippine shares closed 2.4% higher, a day after the central bank hiked the benchmark interest rates to 3.25%.

Financials and industrials were among the top boosts with power generator Aboitiz Equity ventures rising 6% and BDO Unibank ending 3.3% higher.

“Most analysts were citing that recent inflation figures have in a way signalled that the BSP (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) might be behind the curve, so it was viewed positively by the markets today,” Azurin said.

Philippine shares gained 2.7% this week, the most since April 2017.

Vietnam stocks erased early falls to close 1.6% higher, while Malaysia was closed for a public holiday after general elections.

Indonesian stocks jumped nearly 2% in intraday trading before closing 0.8% higher.

Mining contractor United Tractors gained 7%, while Bank Negara Indonesia climbed 2.8%.

Bank Indonesia said the rupiah’s level was not reflecting fundamentals and that it had ample room to adjust the rate, giving another hint that it might raise rates to support the currency.

Singapore shares ended nearly 1% higher, with DBS Group Holdings rising 2.2% and United Overseas Bank up 2.3%.

Data out on Friday showed that the city-state’s retail sales in March fell 1.5% from a year earlier, as sales of motor vehicles as well as computer and telecommunications equipment dropped.