SE Asia Stocks-Markets climb on hopes of massive U.S. stimulus

By Arpit Nayak

* Philippines jumps more than 6%, cenbank cuts RRR by 200 bps * Singapore central bank brings forward policy decision * Thai Airways to cancel nearly all international flights By Arpit Nayak March 25 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets rose sharply on Wednesday, with Philippine shares leading the pack with a more than 6% jump, after Wall Street rallied on hopes of a huge U.S. stimulus package to soften the coronavirus outbreak's economic damage. Democrats and Republicans in the divided U.S. Congress said on Tuesday they were nearing a deal on a $2 trillion stimulus package, but it was unclear when they would be ready to vote on a bill. "Hopes for fresh stimulus from the U.S. government saw Wall Street getting a lift overnight, likewise sending the improved sentiment Asia's way," Jingyi Pan, a market strategist at IG, said in a note. "All said, the backdrop of continued coronavirus spread remains little changed, rendering the need to keep a cautious view on the market." Philippine shares hit a one-week high, after the central bank cut the reserve requirement ratio (RRR) of banks by 200 basis points on Tuesday to mitigate the economic blow from the epidemic. At the same time, the economic planning agency warned its economy might contract for the first time in more than two decades this year due to the fallout from the outbreak. Malaysian stocks gained 3.9% to their highest in nearly two weeks, with the financial and consumer sectors leading the rise. The central bank said the banking system had enough liquidity to ease financial strains and support intermediation activities, even as the country deals with the largest number of virus cases in the region. Singapore equities rose 4%, hitting their highest in a week, led by financials and industrials. The city-state's first-quarter preliminary growth figures will be released earlier than expected on Thursday, when the finance minister is due to unveil new measures to help firms and households weather the economic impact from the pandemic. The central bank will also release its monetary policy statement earlier than usual, amid broad expectations for easing. Thai stocks gained almost 3% as the country prepares to go into a month-long virus-induced emergency lockdown starting Thursday. Flag carrier Thai Airways International said it would cancel nearly all international flights. The Indonesian market was closed on account of a local holiday. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS as at 0333 GMT Change on the day Market Current Previous Pct Move close Singapore 2421.69 2362.05 2.52 Bangkok 1055.45 1033.84 2.09 Manila 5065.14 4774.27 6.09 Kuala Lumpur 1338.45 1291.14 3.66 Ho Chi Minh 675.47 659.21 2.47 Change so far in 2020 Market Current End 2019 Pct Move Singapore 2421.69 3222.83 -24.86 Bangkok 1055.45 1579.84 -33.19 Manila 5065.14 7,815.26 -35.19 Jakarta 3937.632 6,299.54 -37.49 Kuala Lumpur 1338.45 1588.76 -15.76 Ho Chi Minh 675.47 960.99 -29.71 (Reporting by Arpit Nayak; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)