SE Asia Stocks-Markets subdued, China rate cut soothes virus anxiety

·3-min read

* Singapore slashes 2020 growth forecast due to virus * Thai Q4 GDP expands 1.6% y/y, slowest pace in 5 years * China lowers key interest rate By Arundhati Dutta Feb 17 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets were subdued in thin trading on Monday, as stimulus measures from China helped cushion the impact from the coronavirus epidemic on regional economies. As governments unleash more monetary loosening to protect their economies, China's central bank lowered one of its key interest rates, paving the way for a cut in its benchmark loan prime rate, which will be announced on Thursday. The number of reported new virus cases in China's Hubei province rose on Monday after two days of falls, while across mainland China, the total number of cases rose by 2,048 to 70,548, with 1,770 deaths. "COVID-19 should remain a major trading theme for the session with investors looking out for the size and scope of stimulus from governments," Prakash Sakpal and Nicholas Mapa, economists at ING, wrote in a note. Singapore is set to roll out a hefty package of measures to counter the blow from the epidemic at its annual budget on Tuesday, while Malaysia and Thailand have also pledged to implement measures to support their economies. Singaporean stocks were flat, as the impact of a weakened 2020 growth outlook was softened by data which showed that its exports rose 4.6% in January on a month-on-month basis, versus analysts' forecasts for a contraction. The city-state has cut its growth and exports forecasts for this year and flagged the possibility of recession in 2020, due to an expected hit from the virus outbreak. Singapore has reported 75 cases of infections to date, one of the highest tallies outside China. The Philippine index was boosted by gains in big cap conglomerates such as Ayala Land and SM Investments . Thailand rose on communication services, with Advanced Info Service Pcl adding up to 3.4%. Thailand's trade-dependent economy grew at its slowest pace in five years in the fourth quarter of 2019, and less than expected, as exports declined and public spending slumped. Shares in Indonesia Malaysia were little changed. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS AS AT 0323 GMT STOCK MARKETS Change on the day Market Current Previous close Pct Move Singapore 3221.09 3220.03 0.03 Bangkok 1529.07 1526.3 0.18 Manila 7298.53 7282 0.23 Jakarta 5873.218 5866.945 0.11 Kuala Lumpur 1542.75 1544.46 -0.11 Ho Chi Minh 936.06 937.45 -0.15 Change so far in 2020 Market Current End 2019 Pct Move Singapore 3221.09 3222.83 -0.05 Bangkok 1529.07 1579.84 -3.21 Manila 7298.53 7,815.26 -6.61 Jakarta 5873.218 6,299.54 -6.77 Kuala Lumpur 1542.75 1588.76 -2.90 Ho Chi Minh 936.06 960.99 -2.59 (Reporting by Arundhati Dutta; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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