SE Asia Stocks-Thailand leads gains; Singapore advances on China data

By Shreya Mariam Job

* Thai stocks set to snap two sessions of losses * Malaysia July exports above forecast * Singapore on track for second straight gain By Shreya Mariam Job Sept 4 (Reuters) - Thai stocks gained the most in the region on Wednesday after the country's finance minister played down recession fears, while Singapore advanced on the back of upbeat service sector data from China. Thailand's economy is just slowing but not in a recession yet and recently announced stimulus measures should help lift growth to 3% this year, the country's finance minister said. Analysts expect recent inflation data would lead to an interest rate cut by Thailand's central bank. "We believe falling inflation allows the Bank of Thailand space to ease further by at least one more 25bp policy rate cut in the rest of the year," ING said in a note to clients. The Thai SET index rose 0.6%, with gains broad based and was set to snap two straight sessions of losses. The country's biggest listed energy firm PTT PCL gained 1.2%, while telecom company Advance Info Service PCL added 0.9%. Also helping shrug off sour manufacturing data out of the United States was China's service sector numbers. Activity in China's services sector expanded at the fastest pace in three months in August as new orders rose, prompting the biggest increase in hiring in over a year, a private survey showed on Wednesday. The upbeat data boosted equities in trade-reliant Singapore, with the city-state's benchmark index gaining 0.4%, on track to post its second straight gain. Financial and telecom stocks provided the biggest support. DBS Group Holdings Ltd edged up 0.4%, while Singapore Telecommunications Ltd advanced 1%. Vietnam stocks fell 0.5% as financial stocks dropped. Joint Stock Commercial Bank For Foreign Trade Of Viet Nam fell 1% and Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Investment shed 1.3%. Malaysia stocks inched higher, with a boost from financial stocks. The country's exports rose unexpectedly in July, rebounding from a drop in the previous month, lifted by solid demand for manufactured goods and higher shipments to China, government data showed on Wednesday. Indonesian stocks edged lower, while Philippine stocks traded relatively flat. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS As at 0346 GMT Change on the day Market Current Previous close Pct Move Singapore 3103.28 3090.63 0.41 Bangkok 1651.28 1642.25 0.55 Manila 7806.08 7804.71 0.02 Jakarta 6248.475 6261.59 -0.21 Kuala Lumpur 1592.35 1591.52 0.05 Ho Chi Minh 974.84 979.36 -0.46 Change so far in 2019 Market Current End 2018 Pct Move Singapore 3103.28 3068.76 1.12 Bangkok 1651.28 1563.88 5.59 Manila 7806.08 7,466.02 4.55 Jakarta 6248.475 6,194.50 0.87 Kuala Lumpur 1592.35 1690.58 -5.81 Ho Chi Minh 974.84 892.54 9.22 (Reporting by Shreya Mariam Job in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)