Southeast Asian stock markets closed lower on Friday ahead of a US Federal Reserve meeting next week that is likely to take a call on an interest rate increase, and the UK referendum later this month on Britain’s exit from the European Union.
The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, pointing to sustained strength in the labour market despite a sharp slowdown in hiring last month.
The health of the labour market will likely determine the timing of the next Federal Reserve interest rate increase.
Fed watchers surveyed by Reuters this week saw a median 40% chance of a hike in July and a roughly two-in-three chance of a September move.
Britons will vote on June 23 on whether to remain part of the EU, a choice with far-reaching consequences for politics, the economy, defence and diplomacy but divergent polls have made it difficult to predict the outcome.
“The markets are on tenterhooks ahead of next week’s FOMC meeting. Rates may go up in July or September and markets do not like such uncertainty,” said an analyst from Singapore.
“We also think Britain wouldn’t want to exit the EU, but if it swings otherwise, the effects could be detrimental.”
Lower oil prices also dampened sentiment.
The Singapore index ended 0.7% lower, dragged down by oil and gas, and consumer services stocks, but managed to gain 0.5% on the week.
Indondesian stocks lost 0.6%, dragged down by energy and consumer cyclicals. It fell marginally on the week.
Vietnam lost 0.2%, while the Philippine index reversed gains from early trade, losing 0.4%.
Earlier, Asian shares pulled back, with MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dipping 0.8%.
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Source: twot feed