MANILA - Most Southeast Asian stocks fell on Wednesday, led by Philippine shares, as concerns over economic growth in China and the United States hit investor appetite for the region's risk assets amid continuing political tension in Ukraine.
The Philippines stock index was down 1 percent by midday, falling from its highest close since Nov. 4 hit in the previous session. Thailand's SET index edged down 0.2 percent from the previous' day's three-month closing high.
The PSEi closed at 6,462.47, as 106 decliners beat 53 advancers. Among the day's big losers was Aboitiz Equity Ventures, which fell over 2%, after reporting a 12% drop in its 2013 profit.
Analysts said Chinese economic concerns and local politics had dented investor sentiment for Thai stocks.
However, the Thai central bank slashed its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points on Wednesday, which is expected to help the economy cope with damage from months of political unrest.
"This is a boost the stock market and will help to cushion the losses from negative political news," said Teerada Charnyingyong, a strategist at Phillip Securities.
In terms of valuation, Thailand stocks are cheaper with a 12-month forward price-to-earning ratio at 12.6, lower than Philippines (16.9), Malaysia (15.3), Indonesia (14.2), and Singapore (13.7), Thomson Reuters StarMine data showed.
"The Thai equity market has been discounted on the macro picture and companies' earnings slowdown as a result of political uncertainty," Charnyingyong said.
"The political tension seemed easing in short-term. However, it is too early to conclude that the political crisis has been resolved as we still have no sign of getting the new government to rule the country. The negotiation would take some time," she said.
Weak Chinese exports, which tumbled in February, added to fears of a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy, while U.S. economic data gave no clear indication of whether the world's largest economy's troubles were merely weather-related or something more worrisome.
Singapore's benchmark Straits Times index was down 0.7 percent, Jakarta Composite Index fell 0.2 percent, and Malaysia's share index was down 0.5 percent.
Outperforming the region and Asia, Vietnam's benchmark VN Index gained 1 percent, nearing the year-high reached in late February, supported by property, energy and insurance stocks. - With ANC