January 22, 2020 / 4:40 AM / a month ago

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

    * 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.
                
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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)
  
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