SE Asia Stocks-Gain on Sino-U.S. trade deal hopes; China data disappoints

By Sameer Manekar

* China Sept exports post biggest fall since February * Malaysia rises on possible stimulus measures * Singapore cenbank eases policy By Sameer Manekar Oct 14 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stocks finished in the black on Monday, riding the optimism surrounding the Sino-U.S. trade talks, while weak data from China, the region's largest trading partner, capped further gains. China's September exports fell more than expected, while imports contracted for the fifth straight month. September had seen an escalation in the Sino-U.S. trade dispute, with both sides levying additional tariffs on imports from the other country. Meanwhile, sentiment was buoyed by progress on the trade talk front after U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday outlined the first phase of a trade deal with China, as well as suspended a tariff hike scheduled to be imposed from Oct. 15. This raised hopes of an end to the trade dispute between the world's two biggest economies that has resulted in slowing global economic growth. However, Trump said it could take up to five weeks to get a pact written, acknowledging that the agreement could fall apart during that period. "It feels like investors remain somewhat disappointed by the limited nature of the U.S.-China trade deal but remain optimistic that phase 2 and 3 will come to fruition," Stephen Innes, Asia Pacific Market Strategist at AxiTrader said in a note. Malaysian stocks were the top gainers in the index, seeing their best day in over six weeks. The Malaysian government announced a smaller-than-expected budget for 2020 and forecast a wider deficit target, however, it promised stimulus measures should global demand worsen. Food processing firm Sime Darby Plantation saw its best day in over nine weeks, gaining 3.9% in its second consecutive session of gains. Philippines benchmark index posted its third consecutive gain, finishing at an over two-week high. Real estate firms were among the top gainers, with index heavyweight Ayala Corp advancing 0.9%. Singapore's Straits Times index gained 0.3% after the central bank eased its monetary policy for the first time in three years. The decision from Monetary Authority of Singapore came along with data which showed that the city-state's bellwether economy grew less than expected in the third quarter. Growth in the economy was hurt by a prolonged tariff dispute between the world's two biggest economies. Thai Beverage PCL, the biggest gainer in the index, climbed 2.3% to its best session in a week. Indonesian stocks pared early gains to finish 0.4% up, with consumer staples and financials leading the gains. Animal feeds manufacturer Charoen Pokphand Indonesia and PT Bank Central Asia gained 4.3% and 1.2%, respectively. Thailand markets were closed on Monday for a holiday. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS Market Current Previous close Pct Move Singapore 3124.45 3113.97 0.34 Manila 7884.29 7849.94 0.44 Jakarta 6126.877 6105.8 0.35 Kuala Lumpur 1567.59 1556.84 0.69 Ho Chi Minh 993.57 991.84 0.17 Change so far in 2019 Market Current End 2018 Pct Move Singapore 3124.45 3068.76 1.81 Bangkok 1626 1563.88 3.97 Manila 7884.29 7,466.02 5.60 Jakarta 6126.877 6,194.50 -1.09 Kuala Lumpur 1567.59 1690.58 -7.28 Ho Chi Minh 993.57 892.54 11.32 (Reporting by Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru, Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)