SINGAPORE, March 14 — Most South-east Asian stock markets slipped today as the sacking of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and increased fears of a global trade war rattled investors.
Tillerson was seen as a moderate influence in US President Donald Trump's administration and his departure is seen as asign of potential worsening of tariffs. Adding to the worries, reports said Trump is seeking to impose hefty tariffs on Chinese imports.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.7 per cent, the S&P 500 lost 0.6 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 1.02 per cent yesterday.
“The movement in regional markets is focused on the shakeup in the Trump administration ... the second concern is the trade wars after the Trump administration imposed tariffs on steel and aluminium,” said Lexter Azurin, a senior equity analyst at AB Capital.
“This would pose some concern in terms of the global economy in a broader sense.”
Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan stumbled 0.7 per cent, retreating from a 1-1/2 month high the index hit yesterday.
Among South-east Asian markets, Philippine shares were the worst hit, with all sectors contributing to a 1.4 per cent drop in the main index. SM Investments Corp fell as much as 2.3 per cent.
Malaysia dropped 0.4 per cent, largely due to losses in industrial and telecom stocks. Energy shipping solutions provider MISC Bhd fell as much as 3.4 per cent.
Singapore shares lost 0.6 per cent, hurt by broad-based losses. Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp Ltd was 0.8 per cent lower.
The Indonesian benchmark was 0.5 per cent lower, weighed by consumer discretionary and telecom stocks.
Telekomunikasi Indonesia weighed the most on the index, dropping 1 per cent.
An index of the country's 45 most liquid stocks fell 0.7 per cent.
“The story we see right now is a shift from emerging markets back to the US, given the improved US economy. That is a gist of what is happening right now in equity markets,” said AB Capital's Azurin.
Thai shares were also lower as energy and financial sectors draged on the index. PTT PCL fell as much as 1.1 per cent, making it the biggest drag on the index.
Vietnam was the outlier, with the benchmark rising 0.4 per cent as financial and real estate stocks traded higher.
Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Viet Nam was up 2.4 per cent. — Reuters