SE Asia Stocks-Fall as Fed rate cut fails to calm nerves over virus impact

By Shruti Sonal
·3-min read

* Fed cuts interest rates by 50 bps * Financials in Singapore, Thailand drop * Indonesia up on hopes of more stimulus By Shruti Sonal March 4 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets slipped on Wednesday, tracking Wall Street as a surprise rate cut by the U.S. Federal Reserve failed to allay fears over the coronavirus's impact, while dismal China economic data dented sentiment as well. The Fed lowered interest rates by 50 basis points on Tuesday, its first out of cycle cut since 2008 at the height of the financial crisis, in a bid to shield the world's largest economy from the impact of the virus. The cut sent Wall Street sharply lower as investors worried about whether putting more money in the economy would help disrupted supply chains and weak consumer confidence. The move was upended by "worries about the depth and duration of negative economic ripples from COVID-19 impact; doubts about efficacy of rate cuts, and lack of details on transmission/credit relief measures", Vishnu Varathan, a senior economist at Mizuho Bank, said in a note. Further hurting sentiment, data showed China's services sector had its worst month on record in February as new orders plummeted to their lowest since the global financial crisis. Financials in Singapore and Thailand were the worst hit after Fitch Ratings on Tuesday said banks in tourism-dependent Thailand and China-exposed Singapore would be the most affected in the region amid the virus outbreak. Thai stocks fell more than 1.2% after the previous session's sharp gain, with Bangkok Bank Pcl and Bank of Ayudhya Pcl shedding more than 1% each. Singapore shares declined as much as 0.6%, dragged by top lenders including United Overseas Bank Ltd and DBS Group Holdings Ltd. Philippine shares shed more than 1%, hurt by consumers and industrials. Universal Robina Corp and JG Summit Holdings Inc fell nearly 4% each. Meanwhile, Indonesian equities gained as much as 2% to hit their highest since Feb. 27, on expectation of a second policy package to help repair supply chains that have been disrupted by the spread of the virus. Malaysian shares climbed nearly 0.5%, helped by financial and telecom stocks. Data showed January exports dropped 1.5% from a year earlier, marginally better than the 1.6% fall forecast by analysts surveyed in a Reuters poll. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS as at 0337 GMT Change on the day Market Current Previous close Pct Move Singapore 3017.34 3019.56 -0.07 Bangkok 1366.93 1375.02 -0.59 Manila 6733.69 6790.54 -0.84 Jakarta 5613.166 5518.628 1.71 Kuala Lumpur 1483.79 1478.64 0.35 Ho Chi Minh 886.2 890.61 -0.50 Change so far in 2020 Market Current End 2019 Pct Move Singapore 3017.34 3222.83 -6.38 Bangkok 1366.93 1579.84 -13.48 Manila 6733.69 7,815.26 -13.84 Jakarta 5613.166 6,299.54 -10.90 Kuala Lumpur 1483.79 1588.76 -6.61 Ho Chi Minh 886.2 960.99 -7.78 (Reporting by Shruti Sonal; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)