Vietnam stocks advance the most in Asia on inflation outlook

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Vietnam's stocks rose, pushing the benchmark index up the most in Asia, on speculation inflation may slow after prices eased in the country's biggest cities.

The Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange's VN Index gained 1.8 percent to 411.03 as of the 11 a.m. close Friday, paring a weekly loss to 0.8 percent, a fifth consecutive decline. Bao Viet Holdings, the biggest insurer, jumped by the maximum 5 percent to 63,000 dong, the most since Jan. 19. Vietnam Joint-Stock Commercial Bank for Industry & Trade, the second-largest lender by market value, rose 4.9 percent to 23,500 dong.

Month-on-month inflation in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi and in Ho Chi Minh City, the nation's biggest city, slowed in October, the government said in a statement posted late Thursday on its website. Hanoi's consumer price index rose an estimated 0.13 percent in October from last month, compared with 0.2 percent a month earlier. Ho Chi Minh City's prices climbed 0.18 percent, from 0.88 percent in September, according to the statement.

"The slowdown of CPI growth in the two largest cities helped the stock market experience a strong rebound today," said Ho Chi Minh City-based analyst Nguyen Duy Phong of ACB Securities Co. "It signaled that inflation for the whole nation will be slower and interest rates may have a chance to come down," he said.

The VN Index has dropped 15.2 percent this year on concern higher borrowing costs will crimp corporate earnings and economic growth. The State Bank of Vietnam earlier this month increased its refinancing rate to 15 percent from 14 percent in an attempt to cool inflation.

Consumer prices in Vietnam increased 22.42 percent in September from a year earlier. The nation's inflation rate remained the fastest among a basket of 17 Asia Pacific economies tracked by Bloomberg.

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