SE Asia Stocks-Most fall on trade war uncertainty, Thailand rises

By Soumyajit Saha

* Singapore falls most after disappointing data * Malaysia's GDP grows 4.9% in the second quarter By Soumyajit Saha Aug 16 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets fell on Friday as contradictory statements regarding tariffs between the U.S. and China left investors puzzled, while Thailand index rose due to a rally in financials and energy stocks. U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday said the trade war would be "fairly short", adding that the two parties have engaged in "very productive talks" over the week. Trump also said he had a call scheduled with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping soon. Beijing played down Trump's optimism when it vowed to retaliate to the U.S. tariffs set to kick in on Sept. 1, calling the tariffs a violation of a consensus reached between the two countries in June. In a separate statement, the Chinese finance ministry said it was still looking to reach a deal, hoping "the U.S. will meet China halfway". "I would call the trade tensions the key variable that is causing so much uncertainty in the markets," Joel Ng, an analyst with KGI Securities said. Singapore stocks fell the most in the region, down 0.8%, hurt by losses in financials and industrials. Lender United Overseas Bank lost 0.7%, while conglomerate Jardine Matheson Holdings fell 1.5%. Singapore's non-oil exports shrank for the fifth straight month as shipments of electronics and pharmaceutical declined. "The data was slightly better than estimates but it was still negative, and that doesn't lend any confidence given the slowdown has been going on for quite a while," Joel Ng added. Malaysian stocks also fell, hurt by the financial and consumer sectors. Lender Malayan Banking BHD slipped 0.4%, while palm oil producer Sime Darby Plantation BHD fell 3%. Malaysia's GDP grew 4.9% in the second quarter to beat the 4.8% rise forecast in a Reuters poll, making it the first major Southeast Asian economy to report an acceleration from January-March. Thai shares rose, helped by gains in financial and energy stocks. Lender Siam Commercial Bank gained 1.7%, while oil explorer PTT PCL rode a surge in oil prices to rise 0.6%. Thailand's central bank on Thursday relaxed mortgage lending rules to help some borrowers hit by tighter regulations introduced in April. The tightening had led to a slowdown in new housing loans in the second quarter. Indonesian stocks were also slightly higher, helped by gains in the consumer and energy sectors. Philippine shares were slightly lower, hurt by consumer and utility stocks. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS AS AT 0405 GMT STOCK MARKETS Change on the day Market Current Previous close Pct Move Singapore 3104.55 3126.09 -0.69 Bangkok 1611.97 1604.03 0.50 Manila 7819.34 7828.86 -0.12 Jakarta 6280.447 6257.586 0.37 Kuala Lumpur 1594.02 1600.29 -0.39 Ho Chi Minh 980.12 979.38 0.08 Change so far in 2019 Market Current End 2018 Pct Move Singapore 3104.55 3068.76 1.17 Bangkok 1611.97 1563.88 3.08 Manila 7819.34 7,466.02 4.73 Jakarta 6280.447 6,194.50 1.39 Kuala Lumpur 1594.02 1690.58 -5.71 Ho Chi Minh 980.12 892.54 9.81 (Reporting by Soumyajit Saha; editing by Uttaresh.V)