SE Asia Stocks-Most tick higher on hopes of policy easing

By Anushka Trivedi

* Vietnam top gainer, hits over 2-month high * Singapore little changed ahead of inflation data * Thai shares boosted by industrial stocks By Anushka Trivedi July 23 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets inched higher on Tuesday on expectations of monetary policy easing by major central banks such as the U.S. Federal Reserve. The European Central Bank is meeting on Thursday, followed by the Fed next Tuesday-Wednesday. The consensus view is that the ECB is gearing up to ease rates in September, while the Fed will deliver a 25 basis point cut in the July 30-31 meeting. "While the ECB will attract some attention Thursday, it is the Fed decision and policy guidance that will be most critical for the markets risk on view," Stephen Innes, managing partner at VanguardMarkets.com, said in a note to clients. Vietnam shares were the top gainers in Southeast Asia, rising 0.5% to a more than two-month high on the back of materials stocks. Singapore shares were little changed ahead of inflation data. The city state's headline and core inflation rate likely eased in June, a Reuters poll showed, amid more economists raising their bets on a monetary policy easing in October. The economy grew at its slowest annual pace in a decade in the second quarter, according to data released last week, raising bets that a technical recession and monetary policy easing could be just around the corner. Shares of industrial conglomerate Jardine Matheson Holdings Ltd and electronic services provider Venture Corp Ltd were among the top performers. Meanwhile, the South China Morning Post newspaper reported on Monday that a few U.S. officials were planning to visit China next week to commence talks to iron out the longstanding tariff dispute between the two nations. While reports of the two economic power houses resuming trade talks next week are positive for risk sentiment, analysts at ING anticipate markets to tread cautiously ahead of the ECB meeting this week and the Fed meeting next week. Thai shares inched up 0.1%, bolstered by industrial and utility stocks. Manufacturing giant Berli Jucker PCL gained 1.5%, while electricity generator Gulf Energy Development PCL added 0.4%. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS AS AT 0407 GMT Market Current Previous close Pct Move Singapore 3365.82 3357.22 0.26 Bangkok 1729.01 1727.58 0.08 Manila 8228.16 8246.83 -0.23 Jakarta 6421.022 6433.547 -0.19 Kuala Lumpur 1656.79 1655.4 0.08 Ho Chi Minh 986.72 982.04 0.48 Change so far in 2019 Market Current End 2018 Pct Move Singapore 3365.82 3068.76 9.68 Bangkok 1729.01 1563.88 10.56 Manila 8228.16 7,466.02 10.21 Jakarta 6421.022 6,194.50 3.66 Kuala Lumpur 1656.79 1690.58 -2.00 Ho Chi Minh 986.72 892.54 10.55 (Reporting by Anushka Trivedi in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)