March 5, 2020 / 4:37 AM / a month ago

SE Asia Stocks-Most rise on strong U.S. data, policy stimulus

    * U.S. announces $8.3 billion emergency spending to combat
    * Thai stocks hit 1-week high 
    * Lower-than-expected Philippine, Thai inflation boosts rate

    By Shruti Sonal
    March 5 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets edged
up on Thursday, tracking a surge on Wall Street as robust U.S.
economic data, more policy stimulus and Joe Biden's strong
showing in the Democratic primary contests boosted sentiment.
    Services sector activity in the United States jumped to a
one-year high in February, data showed, and the House of
Representatives passed a $8.3 billion emergency spending to
combat the coronavirus outbreak.
    "The prospect of the Fed starting a global easing cycle...
and ramped up U.S. fiscal firepower to fight COVID-19 were
catalysts for equity markets to front-run economic relief",
Vishnu Varathan, a senior economist at Mizuho Bank, said in a
    The U.S. Federal Reserve eased interest rates earlier this
week, joining a global effort to shield growth from the virus
epidemic, which has upended supply chains, travel and production
across the globe.    
    Wall Street surged overnight, after a strong performance by
former Vice President Biden in the Democratic nomination
campaign, as he is considered less likely to raise taxes and
impose new regulations than rival Bernie Sanders.
    Leading gains in Southeast Asia, Thai stocks rose as
much as 1.8% to hit their highest level in a week. 
    Data showed that the country's headline consumer price index
in February rose 0.74% from a year earlier, but stayed below the
central bank's 1%-3% target range, allowing room for rate cuts
at its meeting scheduled later in the month.
    The trade-sensitive Singapore index gained as much as
0.8%, buoyed by financials and industrials.
    Index heavyweights Capitaland Ltd and Mapletree
Commercial Trust jumped nearly 2% and 4%, 
    The Philippine benchmark extended gains to a third
session, lifted by consumer stocks.
    The country's inflation rate slowed for the first time in
four months in February and was lower than the Reuters forecast,
increasing the prospects of a rate cut at the central bank's
March 19 policy meeting.
    Universal Robina Corp and Robinsons Retail Holdings
Inc gained as much as 3.1% and 5%, respectively. 
    The Vietnam index strengthened on gains in energy
stocks after oil prices rose. Petrovietnam Gas Joint Stock Corp
 and Vietnam National Petroleum Group were 1.7%
and 0.8% higher, respectively. 

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 STOCK MARKETS                                    
 Change on the day                                
 Market                 Current   Previous close  Pct Move
 Singapore              3035.53   3025.03         0.35
 Bangkok                1396.78   1378.61         1.32
 Manila                 6893.53   6867.26         0.38
 Jakarta                5641.294  5650.136        -0.16
 Kuala Lumpur           1492.87   1489.95         0.20
 Ho Chi Minh            896.54    889.37          0.81
 Change so far in 2020                            
 Market                 Current   End 2019        Pct Move
 Singapore              3035.53   3222.83         -5.81
 Bangkok                1396.78   1579.84         -11.59
 Manila                 6893.53   7,815.26        -11.79
 Jakarta                5641.294  6,299.54        -10.45
 Kuala Lumpur           1492.87   1588.76         -6.04
 Ho Chi Minh            896.54    960.99          -6.71

 (Reporting by Shruti Sonal; Editing by Devika Syamnath)
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