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SE Asia Stocks-Subdued ahead of Fed meeting

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By Aparajita Saxena March 8 (Reuters) – Southeast Asian stock markets weresubdued on Wednesday as caution prevailed ahead of the U.S.Federal Reserve’s meeting next week where it is widely expectedto raise interest rates. Investors are awaiting cues on the U.S. economy along withthe government’s payrolls report for February, which is due onFriday, to determine whether a rate hike at the upcoming meetingis a done deal. “Investors are booking profits across the market inanticipation of a rate hike. We are seeing some sourness insentiment from Wall Street’s losses last night as well,” saidTheodore Tan, an analyst with AP Securities. U.S. stocks closed lower on Tuesday as weakness in drug andfinancial shares sent the S&P 500 and the Dow JonesIndustrial Average to their first consecutive sessions ofdeclines in more than a month. “Asian shares have risen for the past six weeks, so someamount of profit-taking is normal,” Tan added. Thai shares came off two-month lows to closemarginally higher, buoyed by energy stocks. Oil majors PTT Pcl and PTT Exploration and Production Pclgained 1.3 percent and 0.6 percent respectively, after investorsactively bought shares of the two blue chip companies, analystsaid. Financials were the biggest losers, with Group Lease Pcl diving 25.52 percent to its lowest close since Oct. 13. Led by financials, Singapore shares ended 0.5 percenthigher after a flat opening. The three big Singapore banks rose between 0.7 percent and 1percent, while exchange operator Singapore Exchangeclimbed 1.5 percent. Philippines shares ended flat, with telecom stocksgaining the most. PLDT Inc rose 6.6 percent after itissued a robust full-year outlook, while Globe Telecomclimbed 4.7 percent. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS; CHANGE ON DAY Market Current Previous Pct Move Close Singapore 3145.29 3130.44 0.47 Bangkok 1551.73 1549.87 0.12 Manila 7294.56 7294.52 0.00 Jakarta 5393.764 5402.615 -0.16 Kuala Lumpur 1725.54 1728.66 -0.18 Ho Chi Minh 716.6 716.54 0.01 Change this year Market Current End 2016 Pct Move Singapore 3145.29 2880.76 9.18 Bangkok 1551.73 1542.94 0.57 Manila 7294.56 6840.64 6.63 Jakarta 5393.764 5296.711 1.83 Kuala Lumpur 1725.54 1641.73 5.10 Ho Chi Minh 716.6 664.87 7.78 (Reporting by Aparajita Saxena in Bengaluru; Editing by SherryJacob-Phillips)

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