Southeast Asia stocks: Most markets slip as virus resurgence fears deepen, Indonesia leads losses

05/13/2020 | 06:08am

By Pranav A K

Most Southeast Asian stock markets slipped on Wednesday as investors worried that lifting of coronavirus lockdowns could lead to a second wave of infections and set back economic recovery, while Malaysian market was boosted by a better-than-expected quarterly GDP growth.

Investor sentiment was hit after a leading U.S. infectious disease expert warned on Tuesday that a premature lifting of restrictions could lead to additional outbreaks of the novel coronavirus.

The Indonesian index was the worst performer in the region, slipping 0.8%, with all major sectors in the red on broad-based selling.

Indonesia's Rupiah firmed against the dollar on Wednesday, "which implies that the move lower in equities in Jakarta is part of a general Asian pull-back," said Jeffrey Halley, market analyst at OANDA.

Real estate company Roda Vivatex dropped 7%, while media conglomerate Elang Mahkota Teknologi lost 6.9%.

Indonesia also reported its biggest daily rise in coronavirus infections with 689 new cases on Wednesday.

In Singapore, the benchmark index fell 0.6%, extending losses to a second consecutive session. Consumer services and utility stocks largely underpinned losses.

Philippine stocks extended losses and closed nearly 0.5% lower after the government said the economy's contraction this year could be greater than earlier predicted.

At odds with the regional trend, Malaysian stocks jumped 1.3% to their highest level in nearly two weeks as the economic growth in the first quarter beat expectations. However, it will likely contract in April-June as the COVID-19 pandemic hits exports and domestic demand.

The rise in gross domestic product of 0.7% was below the 3.6% growth in the fourth quarter, and this drop "sets the economy on the path of a recession, probably deeper than the GFC," said Prakash Sakpal, Asia economist at ING.

The Malaysian index was lifted by healthcare stocks due to a rise in demand for medical supplies owed to the pandemic, with the world's biggest medical gloves maker, Top Glove Corp Bhd, surging up to 17% to hit an all-time high.

(Reporting by A K Pranav in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi)

© Reuters 2020
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