Most Southeast Asian stock markets were subdued on Wednesday, with Indonesia hitting a near four-week low, while Singapore extended losses to touch its lowest in two weeks after the city-state’s exports growth contracted in April. Regional markets were in line with the weakness in broader Asia, with MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan down 0.5 percent, amid concerns over U.S. President Donald Trump’s ability to push through an aggressive stimulus programme after he reportedly asked then-FBI Director James Comey to end a probe into his former national security advisor.
Indonesia fell as much as 0.7 percent, dragged down by financial and consumer cyclical stocks. “Because of the political uncertainties, it is now unlikely that S&P would upgrade Indonesia to investment grade,” said Harry Su, head of research at Jakarta-based Bahana Securities. Political unrest has ensued in Indonesia, after its outgoing Christian governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama was jailed last week on the grounds of insulting the Koran in the Muslim-majority country.
Bank Central Asia Tbk PT lost 2.4 percent, while Astra International Tbk PT shed 2 percent. Meanwhile, Singapore stocks fell for a second session, driven by losses in financials and consumer services stocks. Singapore’s non-oil domestic exports unexpectedly dropped in April after five consecutive months of growth, due to a sharp decline in pharmaceutical exports. In the wake of weakening demand, the country’s exports to China also took a hit in April, compared with March.
“The pullback of Singapore’s April NODX into the contraction zone may have alarmed many market watchers, especially since it was growing at an average growth of 14 percent over the past 5 months,” United Overseas Bank said in a note. Jardine Cycle & Carriage and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp were among top losers, falling 2.3 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively. Malaysian shares hit a one-week low, with utility stocks and financials weighing on the index.
Malaysian consumer prices rose 4.4 percent in April due to rising transport and food costs, government data showed. Petronas Gas Bhd was the worst performer, dropping 4.6 percent. Bucking the trend, Thai shares edged higher, while Philippine shares rose as much as 0.7 percent. Data showed the region saw more foreign buying during the month of April, after two months of outflows.