SE Asia Stocks-Trade subdued ahead of holidays, WHO meeting on virus outbreak

By Soumyajit Saha

* Indonesia cenbank targets higher growth in 2020 * EU lawmakers back trade deal with Vietnam * Healthcare stocks help Malaysia By Soumyajit Saha Jan 22 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets were little changed on Wednesday, while trading was thin as investors stayed on the sidelines ahead of Lunar New Year holidays and a World Health Organisation (WHO) meeting on the virus outbreak in China. The WHO will consider whether to designate the outbreak an international public health emergency. Chinese officials said 440 people were confirmed infected, with nine deaths. Markets are watching for further developments in the fight to contain the coronavirus and any decision by the WHO will affect risk sentiment, KGI Securities' analyst Joel Ng said. Indonesian stocks snapped two sessions of losses, helped by gains in financials. Bank Central Asia and Bank Mandiri (Persero) gained 0.9% and 0.7%, respectively. The country's central bank said it targets the economy to grow at 5.1% to 5.5% this year, a slight increase from 2019, and will continue with accommodative monetary policy to support growth. Separately, a senior central bank official said it was prepared to support stability of the rupiah currency through market intervention amid heightened risk from the virus outbreak in China. Vietnam's benchmark touched a two-month high as financial shares rallied. Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam rose 0.7% and Vietnam Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Industry and Trade gained 1.4%. European Union lawmakers gave initial backing on Tuesday for a free trade agreement struck with Vietnam, the bloc's most comprehensive such pact with a developing country. Malaysian stocks edged higher ahead of the central bank's overnight policy rate decision, where it is expected to keep its benchmark interest rate unchanged, according to a Reuters poll. Meanwhile, government data showed that December's consumer price index rose 1% from a year earlier, as expected, driven by expansion in all but two sectors tracked by the index. Hospital operator IHH Healthcare rose 2.5%, while medical device maker Top Glove Corp was 5.7% higher. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS AS AT 0318 GMT STOCK MARKETS Change on the day Market Current Previous Pct Move close Singapore 3245.34 3247.17 -0.06 Bangkok 1576.11 1574.94 0.07 Manila 7452.23 7466.65 -0.19 Jakarta 6255.253 6238.153 0.27 Kuala Lumpur 1589.72 1587.33 0.15 Ho Chi Minh 988.95 986.37 0.26 Change so far in 2020 Market Current End 2019 Pct Move Singapore 3245.34 3222.83 0.70 Bangkok 1576.11 1579.84 -0.24 Manila 7452.23 7,815.26 -4.65 Jakarta 6255.253 6,299.54 -0.70 Kuala Lumpur 1589.72 1588.76 0.06 Ho Chi Minh 988.95 960.99 2.91 (Reporting by Soumyajit Saha in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)