Most up on energy shares; Philippine heads for record close

BANGKOK, Feb 4:   Southeast Asian stock markets rose on Wednesday as a rally in global oil prices lifted energy stocks, bringing Malaysian key index to the highest in more than two months and the Philippine benchmark heading for a record closing high.
Investors piled into shares of oil and gas companies after oil markets have rebounded in recent days and some investors become more confident that oil prices have hit bottom after a seven-month rout.
Recently hit stocks posted strong gains, led by a 6.7 percent jump in Malaysia’s oil and gas firm Sapurakencana Petroleum and a 5 percent rise in Philippine’s refiner Petron Corp.    Kuala Lumpur composite index earlier climbed to 1,831.41, the highest level since Nov. 27. The Philippine main index traded up 1.6 percent at 7,734.50, surpassing a record close of 7,689.91 on Jan. 30.
Top gainers in the region included shares of Singapore’s Keppel Corp and Indonesia’s Wintermar Offshore Marine .  In Bangkok, the key SET index hit 1,619.77, the highest in more than 20 months. Shares of the country’s biggest energy firm PTT, the most actively traded by turnover, rose 2.4 percent.    The PTT share rally was also boosted by purchases in block deals, stock exchange data showed.
Strong finish of U.S. stocks and the recovery in crude prices are key positive factors, brokers said.    ‘We expect the SET Index to extend gains on Wednesday due  to further improvement in global sentiment. U.S. stocks continued to rally … Thai energy stocks may rise further as U.S. oil prices extended their strong gains,’ KGI Securities said in a report.    U.S. stocks jumped more than 1 percent on Tuesday, led by energy shares, while higher-than-expected January car sales also bolstered the advance.
In Hanoi, Vietnam’s benchmark VN Index was almost unchanged, edging down 0.02 percent in cautious trade after falling sharply in the previous session.
(AGENCIES)

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