March 6, 2020 / 4:30 AM / a month ago

SE Asia Stocks-Drop as coronavirus fears grip markets

    * Singapore shares hit lowest since October 2018
    * Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines shed over 1% each
    * Financials across the region hit as rate cuts loom

    By Shruti Sonal
    March 6 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets fell
sharply on Friday as the fast-spreading coronavirus stoked fears
of a deepening economic fallout beyond China, with Singapore
shares hitting their lowest in more than a year amid recession
concerns.
    Broader Asian markets tracked Wall Street lower as deaths
from the virus rose in the United States and elsewhere, taking
the toll worldwide to more than 3,200.
    "What was initially seen as a China-centric shock is now
certainly a global concern," said Westpac senior economist
Elliot Clarke.
    Adding to worries, S&P Global Ratings said growth in the
Asia-Pacific will slow to 4% this year, the lowest since the
global financial crisis, due to the outbreak.
    The hardest-hit economies remain Hong Kong, Singapore and
Thailand, where people flows and supply chain channels are
large, S&P added.
    Financials across the region were among the hardest hit, as
further rate cuts seemed likely to shield economies from the
impact of the outbreak.
    "We are just at the start of the rate-cut cycle and entering
an uncharted territory. Banks, which are heavyweights in most
countries, are likely to face the brunt of the cuts and drag
down indexes," said Joel Ng, a Singapore-based analyst at KGI
Securities.
    Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines and Vietnam all
shed more than 1% each. 
    Leading losses, Indonesian stocks declined as much
as 2.3%, with Bank Central Asia Tbk PT sliding more
than 3%.
    Trade-sensitive Singapore shares fell over 1.7% to
their lowest since October 2018.
    Fears of a recession are mounting in the city state, a day
after data showed retail sales in January fell the most in
almost a year, leading ING analysts to cut their forecast for
annual economic growth to 0.3% from 1%.
    "Having grown by only 0.7% in 2019, negative GDP growth
doesn't look too far-fetched," they said.  
    "Consistent with initial indications from the PMI data, we
think a couple of quarters of GDP contraction, both on a yearly
and quarterly basis, now look inevitable. Accordingly, we see
-0.3% and -0.5% YoY fall in the first and second quarters,
respectively."
    Lenders DBS Group Holdings and Oversea-Chinese
Banking Corp shed more than 2% each.
    Thai stocks slipped nearly 2%, with index
heavyweight Siam Commercial Bank hitting its lowest
since July 2010.

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SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS AS AT 0350 GMT
 Change on the day                               
 Market                 Current  Previous close  Pct Move
 Singapore              2966.68  3018.27         -1.71
 Bangkok                1367.74  1390.83         -1.66
 Manila                 6799.51  6884.77         -1.24
 Jakarta                5519.8   5638.13         -2.10
 Kuala Lumpur           1481.65  1491.03         -0.63
 Ho Chi Minh            884.49   893.31          -0.99
                                                 
 Change so far in 2020                           
 Market                 Current  End 2019        Pct Move
 Singapore              2966.68  3222.83         -7.95
 Bangkok                1367.74  1579.84         -13.43
 Manila                 6799.51  7,815.26        -13.00
 Jakarta                5519.8   6,299.54        -12.38
 Kuala Lumpur           1481.65  1588.76         -6.74
 Ho Chi Minh            884.49   960.99          -7.96
 
 (Reporting by Shruti Sonal; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)
  
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