SE Asia Stocks: Most edge higher; Indonesia retreats after trade data

BANGKOK - Most Southeast Asian stock markets posted modest gains on Wednesday, fretting over a slump in Chinese shares while stocks in Indonesia retreated on the country's narrower trade surplus.

The Jakarta composite index eased 0.6 percent, retreating from a third straight day of gains to a one-week high on Tuesday. Top large cap losers included Bank Negara Indonesia and Astra International, each falling more than 2 percent.

Indonesia's trade surplus narrowed to US$477 million in June from a revised US$1.08 billion in May. The surplus was Indonesia's seventh straight monthly surplus.

Shares in Jakarta fell in light trading volume ahead of a long market holiday. Indonesian financial markets will be closed from July 16 to July 21 for the Eid al-Fitr celebrations. Markets will reopen for trading on July 22.

Volume in Malaysia and Singapore each was about a third of a 30-day average. Malaysia's stock exchange will trade for a half day on Thursday before a market holiday on Friday. Singapore is closed on Friday for a market holiday.

Asian stocks erased most of their gains on Wednesday and Chinese shares slumped despite upbeat economic data while investors continued to await other key events, including a Greek parliamentary vote on austerity measures.

Bangkok's SET index hit a near two-week high led by shares of builders such as Italian Thai Development. The cabinet approved a construction plan for domestic motorway routes which lifted the outlook for the construction industry, brokers said.

Brokers expected market gains to be short-lived as large sectors such as banks were expected to report weak quarterly results.

"We see any rallies as a profit-taking opportunity. The market remains vulnerable to further downside risk posed by possible corporate earnings downgrades after the end of the second-quarter earnings season," said broker Phillip Securities.

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