SINGAPORE (Dec 26): Last year, economists predicted Southeast Asia would be blessed with a strong and vibrant 2018. For next year, they’re not quite so optimistic.

Moderating economic growth and higher interest rates lie ahead. The Federal Reserve is set to keep everyone on edge as it navigates an even trickier interest-rate path in 2019, while the trade war between the US and China is already hurting exports in the region. The Philippines might eke out a small gain in growth in 2019, if their bets that inflation will diminish come to fruition.

“Asean growth and inflation look set to soften in 2019,” said Tamara Henderson at Bloomberg Economics. “Even so, a desire to attract investment inflows may require that the region’s central banks maintain a bias toward tightening -- at least until a pause by the Federal Reserve comes into view or China’s stimulus starts to bear fruit.”

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