SE Asia Stocks-Most tepid amid virus outbreak; Malaysia stumbles on warning

    * Coronavirus-related infections in China hit 440, with nine
    * Vietnam stocks hit highest close in two months
    * Energy stocks drag Indonesia marginally lower

    By Soumyajit Saha
    Jan 22 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian markets were subdued
on Wednesday ahead of a World Health Organisation meeting on a
virus outbreak in China - the region's biggest trading partner,
while Malaysian stocks dropped after the central bank flagged
growth-related risks.
    The coronavirus spread from Wuhan in central China to
several other cities and abroad, just as millions of people
prepared to travel for the Lunar New Year between Jan. 24 and
    The outbreak also shook global financial markets as
investors recalled China's Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
(SARS) epidemic in 2002-2003, a coronavirus outbreak that killed
nearly 800 people.
    The World Health Organization is set to determine whether
the virus outbreak is an international public health emergency
in a meeting on Wednesday.
    Sentiment across Malaysian equities dipped further after the
central bank said downside risks to growth remained, after it
unexpectedly cut its key interest rate.

    "We believe the sell-off is mostly a knee-jerk reaction to
the rate cut, as even though the cut was expected no one
expected it to come as early as January," said Imran Yusof,
senior analyst at Kuala Lumpur-based MIDF research.
    Heavyweight lenders Public Bank and Hong Leong
Bank ended down 2.4% and 3.6%, respectively.
    Vietnam stocks hit their highest close in over two
months, with heavyweights Vinhomes JSC and Joint Stock
Commercial Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam
 ending 2.2% and 2.8% firmer, respectively.
    The strong performance of the banking sector and European
Union backing for a trade deal with Vietnam has benefited the
index, said Tran Minh Hoang, chief economist at Vietcombank
    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.
    Banking and real-estate sectors helped the Singapore
index close slightly firmer.
    Lender DBS Group Holdings advanced 0.4%, while
real estate developer Capitaland Ltd closed 1.3%
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  STOCK MARKETS                                               
  Change on the day                                           
  Market               Current      Previous       Pct Move
  Singapore            3253.93      3247.17         0.21
  Bangkok              1574.59      1574.94        -0.02
  Manila               7468.73      7466.65         0.03
  Jakarta              6233.453     6238.153       -0.08
  Kuala Lumpur         1577.98      1587.33        -0.59
 Ho Chi Minh           991.46       986.37          0.52
  Change so far in                                 
  Market               Current      End 2019       Pct Move
  Singapore            3253.93      3222.83        0.96
  Bangkok              1574.59      1579.84        -0.33
  Manila               7468.73      7,815.26       -4.43
  Jakarta              6233.453     6,299.54       -1.05
  Kuala Lumpur         1577.98      1588.76        -0.68
  Ho Chi Minh          991.46       960.99         3.17

 (Reporting by Soumyajit Saha in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry