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SE Asia Stocks-Most markets tepid ahead of looming tariff deadline

By Arundhati Dutta

* Washington and Beijing may delay Dec. 15 tariffs - WSJ * Thai index set to fall for 10th straight session * Singapore up on blue chips By Arundhati Dutta Dec 11 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets were subdued on Wednesday, ahead of a looming tariff deadline, despite a report that cited trade negotiators are laying the groundwork to delay fresh U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports. Officials in Beijing and Washington have signalled that Dec. 15 is not the final date for reaching a so-called "phase-one" deal, according to a Wall Street Journal report, even though that is the date U.S. President Donald Trump has set for tariffs to increase on $165 billion of Chinese goods. Faced with often conflicting reports, investors have begun to suspect that even if U.S. tariffs due to take effect on Sunday are delayed, it could take until 2020 before Washington and Beijing can agree a preliminary deal to wind back their trade war. "Trade negotiators from both countries have moved away from a deadline for a Phase 1 trade deal," DBS Group Research said in a note. Markets are also keeping an eye on commentary from the U.S. Federal Reserve's policy meeting, where the central bank is expected to stand pat on rates. Leading gains, the Philippine index posted its best session in more than a week, with conglomerates SM Investments Corp and Ayala Land advancing 1% and 0.6%, respectively. Trade-sensitive Singapore index was lifted by solid gains in Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp and agribusiness firm Wilmar International. Malaysian equities inched up, with big-cap financial stocks Malayan Banking and RHB Bank adding nearly 0.2% and 0.7%, respectively. On the downside, Thai stocks were trading lower, as losses in financials offset modest gains in industrials. The index was poised to close lower for a tenth straight session. The Siam Commercial Bank slipped 2%, while Airports of Thailand climbed 1%. Vietnamese shares dropped 0.5%, weighed by real-estate stocks. Vinhomes Joint Stock Co shed nearly 2%. The Indonesian benchmark remained subdued. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS AS AT 0438 GMT STOCK MARKETS Change on the day Market Current Previous close Pct Move Singapore 3172.11 3162.89 0.29 Bangkok 1549.38 1552.96 -0.23 Manila 7786.52 7736.18 0.65 Jakarta 6182.983 6183.505 -0.01 Kuala Lumpur 1563.75 1561.79 0.13 Ho Chi Minh 955.68 960.3 -0.48 Change so far in 2019 Market Current End 2018 Pct Move Singapore 3172.11 3068.76 3.37 Bangkok 1549.38 1563.88 -0.93 Manila 7786.52 7,466.02 4.29 Jakarta 6182.983 6,194.50 -0.19 Kuala Lumpur 1563.75 1690.58 -7.50 Ho Chi Minh 955.68 892.54 7.07 (Reporting by Arundhati Dutta; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)