SE Asia Stocks-Most end lower as China virus scare looms; Philippines climbs

    * Worries about China virus grow ahead of Lunar New Year
    * Data shows Singapore inflation picked up slightly in Dec
    * Indonesia's central bank keeps interest rates unchanged
    * Philippine cenbank says 7% growth attainable in 2020

    By Soumyajit Saha
    Jan 23 (Reuters) - Most Southeast stock markets ended lower
on Thursday as mounting concerns of a coronavirus outbreak in
China sapped confidence, while the Philippine index
marked its best session in more than three months as traders
picked up beaten-down stocks.
    Investors remained anxious about the spread of the virus as
China ordered a lockdown on Wuhan, a central Chinese city of 11
million people, ahead of the travel-heavy Chinese New Year
    Leading losses in the region, Singapore shares hit
their lowest close in two weeks with United Overseas Bank
 falling 0.7% and conglomerate Jardine Matheson
Holdings dropping 1.5%.     
    "A lot of things are still not known about this new virus
scare, so markets are bound to be very cautious," a trader with
Maybank Kim Eng Securities said, who declined to be identified
as he was not authorised to speak to the media.
    Sentiment dropped further after data showed that the
city-state's core inflation rate picked up slightly in December.

    The Thai index traded flat in the absence of any
market-moving catalysts, while Malaysian shares hit
their lowest close in more than a month, dented by healthcare
and consumer sectors.
    Latex glove manufacturer Hartalega Holdings fell
2.6%, while conglomerate Genting Bhd closed 2.3%
    Bucking the sombre mood, the Philippine benchmark index rose
almost 2% after the central bank said gross domestic product
(GDP) growth of 7% was attainable for 2020.
    Real estate developer Ayala Land advanced 3.6%,
while packaged food producer Universal Robina Corp
ended 5.2% firmer.
    "I would look into the performance over the last few days,
which is mostly weak, so today's bounce back mostly looks like
bargain-hunting from investors," said Charles William Ang,
associate analyst at COL Financial Group.
    Gains in the resources and consumer sectors helped
Indonesian stocks snap three sessions of losses, with
Chandra Asri Petrochemical advancing 1.3%, while
cigarette maker Gudang Garam ended 1.1% firmer.
    Indonesia's central bank kept interest rates unchanged at
its first policy meeting of the year, noting the country's
economic cycle had past its lowest point and promising to remain
    The Vietnam bourse was closed for a public holiday.   
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 Market                 Current  Previous close  Pct Move
 Singapore              3234.56  3253.93         -0.60
 Bangkok                1573.7   1574.59         -0.06
 Manila                 7616.35  7468.73          1.98
 Jakarta                6249.21  6233.453         0.25
 Kuala Lumpur           1574.44  1577.98         -0.22
 Change so far in 2020                           
 Market                 Current  End 2019        Pct Move
 Singapore              3234.56  3222.83         0.36
 Bangkok                1573.7   1579.84         -0.39
 Manila                 7616.35  7,815.26        -2.55
 Jakarta                6249.21  6,299.54        -0.80
 Kuala Lumpur           1574.44  1588.76         -0.90
 Ho Chi Minh            991.46   960.99          3.17
 (Reporting by Soumyajit Saha in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry