SE Asia Stocks-Most gain as trade optimism whets appetite; Singapore leads

By Sameer Manekar

* U.S. official said tariffs on Chinese goods could be withdrawn * Singapore's Keppel Corp surges 17.1% on Temasek offer * Indonesia set to snap seven consecutive sessions of gains By Sameer Manekar Oct 22 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets traded in positive territory on Tuesday, with Singapore leading gains, as signs of progress in the Sino-U.S. trade negotiations whetted appetite and encouraged investors to resume their bets. U.S. President Donald Trump sounded upbeat on a China deal on Monday, while White House adviser Larry Kudlow said tariffs on Chinese goods scheduled for December could be withdrawn if talks go well. Trump's comments came as Chinese Vice Premier Liu He said last week that Beijing would work with Washington to resolve the bruising 15-month trade dispute. However, investors believe that market optimism could soon be tempered. "To begin with, we had been here before. Trade negotiations were reportedly going well before the talks abruptly broke off in May," Mizuho Bank said in a note to clients. Shares in Singapore, which is among the most vulnerable to the trade dispute with China being the region's biggest trading partner, gained the most with the benchmark index hitting its highest in more than a month. Industrial conglomerate Keppel Corp surged 17.1%, marking its best session in more than 21 years, following state-owned investor Temasek's bid to buy control of Keppel in a S$4.1 billion ($3.01 billion) deal. The deal has raised expectations of consolidation in the domestic rig buiding sector, with Keppel's peer Sembcorp Marine adding as much as 5.2%. Temasek is the majority shareholder in Sembcorp. The Thai index recovered from previous session's decline to mark its best session in nearly two weeks. Electricity generator Gulf Energy Development and oil and gas refiner PTT PCL were among top gainers, adding 1.7% and 1.1%, respectively. Industrial and real-estate firms were among the top performers in the Philippines index, with JG Summit Holdings and Ayala Corp gaining 1.8% and 1.2%, respectively. Indonesian stocks were set to snap seven straight sessions of gains as cautious investors await the central bank policy meeting due later this week. Bank Indonesia is expected to cut its benchmark rate by 25bps, according to a Reuters poll. Auto manufacturer Astra International and cement manufacturer Semen Indonesia were among the top losers, slipping 1.5% and 1.2%, respectively. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS AS AT 0431 GMT Market Current Previous close Pct Move Singapore 3164.24 3139.15 0.80 Bangkok 1628.12 1620.78 0.45 Manila 7911.17 7891.13 0.25 Jakarta 6186.785 6198.987 -0.20 Kuala Lumpur 1568.9 1570.93 -0.13 Ho Chi Minh 987.06 983.56 0.36 Change so far in 2019 Market Current End 2018 Pct Move Singapore 3164.24 3068.76 3.11 Bangkok 1628.12 1563.88 4.11 Manila 7911.17 7,466.02 5.96 Jakarta 6186.785 6,194.50 -0.12 Kuala Lumpur 1568.9 1690.58 -7.20 Ho Chi Minh 987.06 892.54 10.59 ($1 = 1.3614 Singapore dollars) (Reporting by Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)