SE Asia Stocks-Most end lower on fears of economic hit from coronavirus

By Arpit Nayak

* Singapore ends lower for a sixth straight session * Indonesia and Thailand announce stimulus packages * Philippines stock exchange set to reopen on March 19 By Arpit Nayak March 18 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets gave up early gains to end lower on Wednesday, as fears over the economic damage from the coronavirus contagion overshadowed stimulus measures from major central banks. Markets across the region struggled to hold on to gains as a rising number of virus cases forced lockdowns and travel bans in a bid to restrict the spread of the virus. "Financial markets have been volatile these past few days, to say the least," said Venkateswaran Lavanya, analyst at Mizuho Bank, in a note. "We still think that financial market contagion resulting in a self-perpetuating financial crisis remains a real and present danger." Singapore stocks ended 1.2% lower, after rising more than 3% earlier, as worries emerged that the country may be headed towards its first full-year recession in nearly 20 years as Malaysia's travel ban robs the city-state of a key source of labour. The index ended lower for a sixth straight session. Conglomerate Jardine Strategic Holdings dropped 3.6%, while real estate firm Capitaland eased 2.8%. Malaysia's bourse fell as much as 1.4%, as the country went into a two-week partial lockdown after a spike in coronavirus cases. The Indonesian index ended 2.8% lower as financial and consumer sectors took the biggest hits, with Bank Mandiri (Persero) falling 6.8% and household goods maker Unilever Indonesia dropping 6.9%. Indonesia said it would reallocate 17.17 trillion rupiah ($1.13 billion) from its 2020 state budget in a bid to blunt the economic impact of the virus. The stimulus comes ahead of an expected cut to the central bank's key policy rate at a meeting on Thursday. Thai equities bucked the trend to rise 1.3% after the central bank said it had bought bonds worth $1 billion to boost liquidity. The telecom and financial sectors were the biggest gainers, as mobile phone operator Advanced Info Service and Kasikornbank added 4.4% and 1.5%, respectively. Trading remained suspended on the Philippine bourse but was set to resume on Thursday, despite a lockdown across the island of Luzon where capital Manila is located. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS Change on the day Market Current Previous Pct Move close Singapore 2425.62 2454.53 -1.18 Bangkok 1048.15 1035.17 1.25 Jakarta 4330.674 4456.749 -2.83 Kuala Lumpur 1239.01 1256.58 -1.40 Ho Chi Minh 747.66 745.78 0.25 Change so far in 2020 Market Current End 2019 Pct Move Singapore 2425.62 3222.83 -24.74 Bangkok 1048.15 1579.84 -33.65 Manila 5335.37 7,815.26 -31.73 Jakarta 4330.674 6,299.54 -31.25 Kuala Lumpur 1239.01 1588.76 -22.01 Ho Chi Minh 747.66 960.99 -22.20 (Reporting by Arpit Nayak; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel)