SOUTHEAST Asian stock markets climbed on Friday, with Philippine shares leading the pack, as encouraging data from China whipped up risk appetite.

China, Southeast Asia’s largest trading partner, grew by 6% in the fourth quarter, in line with market expectations, suggesting the world’s second-largest economy was stabilising.

Data also showed that December’s industrial output grew 6.9% from a year earlier, the strongest pace in nine months, while retail sales rose 8.0%. Fixed-asset investment for the full year jumped 5.4%.

“The latest slew of economic data suggests that the global economy is stabilising and poised for a recovery amid de-escalating US-China trade tensions,” Han Tan, market analyst at FXTM, said in a note.

“Such an environment should also offer emerging markets the chance to find a more stable footing and provide room for riskier assets to advance.”

Philippine shares climbed 0.9% in their best session in two weeks, with Jollibee Foods Corp topping the benchmark index. The main index shed 0.7% for the week.

Earlier in the day, Jollibee Foods said it raised US$600 mil (RM2.438 mil) from its first ever bond sale, which was upsized from an original intended amount of US$400 mil due to strong demand.

Malaysian equities advanced 0.5%, buoyed by telecoms, and posted a weekly gain of 0.3%.

Axiata shares jumped 5.5% in their best session in more than eight months, after a report that Telenor ASA was in talks with Malaysia’s sovereign fund, which could result in the Norwegian company buying a part of the fund’s stake in Axiata.

Thai shares scaled their highest in nearly two months, driven by financial and telecom stocks.

Kasikornbank Pcl gained 2.5% and Advanced Info Service Pcl firmed 1.9%.

Singapore shares were largely flat throughout the session, with telecoms weighing on the benchmark index.

The city-state’s exports posted a surprise rebound in December after nine months of contraction, partly boosted by a sharp rise in pharmaceutical shipments.

However, economists said further declines in electronics exports did not yet indicate the recovery could be sustained. – Jan 17, 2020 Reuters

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