SE Asia Stocks-Most markets fall on pandemic fears; Philippines slumps

By Soumyajit Saha

* Coronavirus cases in South Korea rise to 1,146 * Philippine sees biggest intraday fall in over 4 years * Utility, industrial stocks help Malaysia rise By Soumyajit Saha Feb 26 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets fell on Wednesday as the rapid spread of coronavirus outside China rattled investors, with Philippine shares dropping more than 4% in catch-up trade. The pace of virus infections in South Korea accelerated, bringing the total number of cases to 1,146 in the worst-hit country outside China. Overnight U.S. stocks and treasury yields plummeted after the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said Americans should prepare for possible community spread of the virus. Leading losses in Southeast Asia, Philippine stocks marked their biggest intraday drop in more than four years and hit their lowest in over 15 months in "pent-up selling" as trading resumed after a holiday. Sentiment was also hurt by China's latest attempt to crack down on Manila-based online gambling firms (POGOs), said Rachelle Cruz, an analyst with AP Securities, adding that this would hit the real estate, banking, retail and construction sectors. "When POGOs entered the property sector in 2016 they forced a big increase in rental prices as well as driving demand for properties," she said. The Bureau of Immigration said mass deportations of Chinese nationals working at POGOs could be on the cards as China intensifies its crackdown, the Philippine Star reported https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2020/02/25/1995846/mass-deportation-looms-chinese-pogo-workers. Losses in banking and energy stocks dragged down the Thai benchmark index nearly 1.4%, ahead of January manufacturing production data later in the day. Lender Kasikornbank dropped 4.3%, while oil & gas explorer PTT PCL slipped 1.2%. Meanwhile, Malaysian shares rose on gains in utility and industrial stocks. Shipping and offshore services provider Misc Bhd advanced 3.5%, while electricity provider Tenaga Nasional Bhd gained 1.6%. The uptick was helped by attempts to find a resolution to the political situation, said Imran Yusof, a senior analyst with MIDF Research. Four Malaysian parties on Tuesday rejected Mahathir Mohamad's proposal for a unity government after his resignation as prime minister, calling instead for an election. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS AS AT 0344 GMT STOCK MARKETS Change on the day Market Current Previous Pct Move close Singapore 3127.92 3158.24 -0.96 Bangkok 1420.9 1439.1 -1.26 Manila 6953.98 7187.44 -3.25 Jakarta 5745.431 5787.138 -0.72 Kuala Lumpur 1503.48 1500.88 0.17 Ho Chi Minh 903.07 909.67 -0.73 Change so far in 2020 Market Current End 2019 Pct Move Singapore 3127.92 3222.83 -2.94 Bangkok 1420.9 1579.84 -10.06 Manila 6953.98 7,815.26 -11.02 Jakarta 5745.431 6,299.54 -8.80 Kuala Lumpur 1503.48 1588.76 -5.37 Ho Chi Minh 903.07 960.99 -6.03 (Reporting by Soumyajit Saha in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)