* Chinese benchmark ends 1.3% higher on Tuesday * Rise in Dec. exports boost Malaysian shares * Philippine index gains on rate cut prospects By Shruti Sonal Feb 4 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets ended higher on Tuesday as China's central bank made a concerted effort to prop up the economy to calm virus fears, while upbeat economic data further lifted Singapore and Malaysian shares. The Shanghai Composite index recovered some lost ground, rising 1.3% after China said it would welcome assistance from the United States to fight the outbreak, even as it injected cash into markets and eased a key lending rate. "Stimulus measures from the Chinese central bank may have also helped sentiment as well, with other central banks possibly conducting their own measures to cushion the impending economic impact," ING senior economist Nicholas Mapa said. Investors' sentiment was also aided by a surprisingly solid reading of U.S. manufacturing, which rebounded in January after contracting for five straight months amid a surge in new orders. Singapore shares bounced back from sharp losses in the previous session to end 1.3% higher, boosted by solid manufacturing data. The city-state's manufacturing data here improved in January from the previous month, its second month of expansion after six straight months of contraction. Financials and industrials led gains in the index, with United Overseas Bank Ltd rising 1.9%. Malaysian shares snapped 10 straight sessions of losses as data showed exports in the country rose for the first time in five months in December. Index heavyweights Petronas Gas Bhd and Tenaga Nasional Bhd rose 3.4% and 2.1%, respectively. The Philippine benchmark closed 1.3% higher, as prospects of a rate cut buoyed financial stocks. The country's central bank is expected to cut interest rates on Thursday, taking advantage of benign inflation to support the economy against the negative impact of the spreading virus outbreak, a Reuters poll showed. BDO Unibank Inc and Security Bank Corp gained 4.3% and 2%, respectively. Indonesian equities gained 0.7% after an official of the country's central bank said its economy will suffer little impact from a virus outbreak in China. He further added that Bank Indonesia maintains its 2020 outlook for economic growth of 5.1% to 5.5%. Bank Central Asia Tbk PT gained over 2% in its best session since Dec. 18, 2019. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS Change on the day Market Current Previous close Pct Move Singapore 3156.57 3116.31 1.29 Bangkok 1519.38 1496.06 1.56 Manila 7226.9 7137.03 1.26 Jakarta 5922.339 5884.17 0.65 Kuala Lumpur 1535.8 1521.95 0.91 Ho Chi Minh 929.09 928.14 0.10 Change so far in 2020 Market Current End 2019 Pct Move Singapore 3156.57 3222.83 -2.06 Bangkok 1519.38 1579.84 -3.83 Manila 7226.9 7,815.26 -7.53 Jakarta 5922.339 6,299.54 -5.99 Kuala Lumpur 1535.8 1588.76 -3.33 Ho Chi Minh 929.09 960.99 -3.32 (Reporting by Shruti Sonal; Editing by Bernard Orr)
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