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REFILE-SE Asia Stocks-Most end firmer as investors eye last-ditch trade talks

By Nikhil Subba

(Adds dropped word in headline) * Trump tariffs come into force, China yet to retaliate * Singapore posts biggest weekly loss since Oct 2018 * Malaysia and Philippines end lower By Nikhil Subba May 10 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian markets closed higher on Friday, but logged in weekly declines, amid hopes for a possible breakthrough in the trade dispute between Washington and Beijing, even though another round of U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods kicked in. Tension between Washington and Beijing has risen after a major setback in negotiations last week when China revised a draft deal and weakened commitments to meet U.S. demands for trade reform. U.S. President Donald Trump responded by ordering a tariff hike, and China has said it would retaliate. However, negotiators in Washington agreed to stay at the table for a second day, keeping alive hopes of an eventual agreement. "If they don't reach a deal by tonight or over the weekend, there will probably be some selling pressure next week … If you look at the futures for the U.S. markets, they are a bit flat, so I think there might even be some hope that an agreement could be reached," said Joel Ng, analyst, KGI Securities. The 10-month-old trade war has already cost companies in both countries billions of dollars. Singapore's Straits Times Index, whose stocks are most exposed to global trade, posted its worst weekly loss since Oct 12, 2018, even though it ended the session marginally higher. Palm oil company Golden Agri-Resources advanced 1.8%, while conglomerate Jardine Cycle & Carriage closed 0.5% higher. Top boost in the region, Vietnamese stocks closed higher, buoyed by gains in financials and energy shares. Analysts believe Vietnam could benefit if the U.S.-China trade war continues to drag as global companies are seen shifting their production base and manufacturing facilities into the country from China, to cut costs and minimize tariffs. The index posted its biggest weekly loss since Dec 21, 2018. Indonesia's benchmark reversed earlier losses to close 0.2% higher, helped by utilities and telecom stocks. Indonesia's current account deficit narrowed in January-March to the smallest in a year, helping the country to post a balance of payments surplus, but some economists say this would not trigger an interest rate cut by the central bank. Malaysian stocks ended 0.5% lower, dented by telecom giant Axiata Group's nearly 2% drop. The index fell 1.65% this week, its worst since Oct. 26, 2018. Polls showed that hopes of an economic revival in Malaysia under Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has steadily eroded since United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) was removed from power for the first time in 60 years. Philippine stocks ended 0.2% down, dragged lower by energy stocks. The benchmark tumbled nearly 3% since Monday, marking its biggest weekly loss since March 1. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS Change on the day Market Current Previous Pct Move close Singapore 3273.4 3269.7 0.12 Bangkok 1651.36 1646.8 0.11 Manila 7742.2 7755.62 -0.17 Jakarta 6209.118 6198.804 0.17 Kuala Lumpur 1610.27 1618.53 -0.51 Ho Chi Minh 952.55 947.01 0.58 Change on year Market Current End 2018 Pct Move Singapore 3273.4 3068.76 6.67 Bangkok 1651.36 1563.88 5.42 Manila 7742.2 7466.02 3.70 Jakarta 6209.118 6194.498 0.24 Kuala Lumpur 1610.27 1690.58 -4.75 Ho Chi Minh 952.55 892.54 6.72 (Reporting by Nikhil Subba; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)