SE Asia Stocks-Most drop on signals of smaller U.S. rate cut

By Anushka Trivedi

* Philippines leads losses in regional market * Indonesian shares drop most in nearly two weeks * Thai shares drop after data shows decline in exports By Anushka Trivedi July 22 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets started the week on the backfoot with Philippines leading the declines, as investors pulled money out of risky assets due to reduced odds of a double-barrelled U.S. interest rate cut later this month. Equities worldwide benefited last week from New York Fed President's dovish comments that hinted at a half-point rate cut this month, but hopes were thwarted when his speech was recanted and qualified as "academic" rather than a policy suggestion. Wall Street Journal's report on Friday that the U.S. Federal Reserve was likely to cut rates by 25 bps dashed expectations further. Markets "will likely trade with a more risk cynical bent this week as the less dovish Fed narrative continues to sink in" said Stephen Innes, managing partner at Vanguard Markets, in a note. Leading the declines, Philippine shares posted their sharpest intraday drop in over three weeks, dented by financials and utility stocks. The biggest laggards in the index - Bank of the Philippine Islands and power generator Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc lost more than 2% each. The Singapore index also edged lower, with real estate giant Capitaland Mall Trust falling 1.5% and lender United Overseas Bank Ltd shedding 1.1%. Indonesian shares dropped most in nearly two weeks with losses being dominated by consumer stocks. Unilever Indonesia Tbk PT dropped 1.3%, while the country's second-largest cement maker Indocement Tunggal Prakarsa Tbk PT shed 1.4%. Meanwhile, Thai shares dipped shortly after data showed the country's customs-cleared exports declined for a fourth straight month in June, down 2.15% from a year earlier, while imports also contracted for the period. Losses mainly stemmed from the industrial sector as Bangkok Expressway and Metro PCL subsided 2.7%, while Airports of Thailand PCL traded 1% lower. Malaysian shares shed previous session's gains to edge 0.3% lower as losses in telco and financial sectors weighed. Telecom services provider Maxis Bhd skid 1.2%, while lender CIMB Group Holdings Bhd declined 1%. Bucking the trend, the Vietnam benchmark index edged a tick higher. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS AS AT 0435 GMT Market Current Previous close Pct Move Singapore 3357.37 3377.96 -0.61 Bangkok 1730.59 1735.1 -0.26 Manila 8212.49 8270.07 -0.70 Jakarta 6431.791 6456.539 -0.38 Kuala Lumpur 1652.63 1658.19 -0.34 Ho Chi Minh 983.05 982.34 0.07 Change so far in 2019 Market Current End 2018 Pct Move Singapore 3357.37 3068.76 9.40 Bangkok 1730.59 1563.88 10.66 Manila 8212.49 7,466.02 10.00 Jakarta 6431.791 6,194.50 3.83 Kuala Lumpur 1652.63 1690.58 -2.24 Ho Chi Minh 983.05 892.54 10.14 (Reporting by Anushka Trivedi in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)