SE Asia Stocks-Gain across the board as U.S. stimulus bolsters sentiment

By Arpit Nayak

* Malaysia to extend virus-induced lockdown * Thai cenbank holds key rate, says economy to contract this year * Indonesia to cut trading hours to contain virus spread By Arpit Nayak March 25 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets rose sharply on Wednesday as a massive U.S. fiscal stimulus package to rein in the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic boosted investor sentiment around the world. The stimulus package, expected to be worth $2 trillion and signed between U.S. senators and the White House, joined a barrage of global moves to shore up liquidity as the fast-spreading virus pummels economies worldwide. "Optimism appears to have returned with emphatic market rebound in tow," said Vishnu Varathan, an analyst at Mizuho Bank. Varathan added that apart from the "massive U.S. fiscal stimulus within reach," the rebound was also fed by pledges of unlimited quantitative easing from the U.S. Federal Reserve on Tuesday. Singaporean equities led gains in the region to end 6.1% higher, with financial and consumer stocks strengthening the most. Financial and consumer stocks climbed most on the Philippine index, sending it 5.3% higher as the central bank on Tuesday slashed the reserve requirement ratio of banks to support growth and boost lending. Thai shares gained 4.5% after the central bank said the banking system had enough liquidity to ease financial strains due to the outbreak, ahead of a month-long virus-induced emergency lockdown. The bank left its key interest rate unchanged at a record low, but warned its economy would contract this year due to the impact of the virus. Malaysian stocks added 2.6%, with telecom and consumer sectors gaining the most. The country has dealt with the largest number of coronavirus cases in the region so far and said it would extend its two-week restriction of movement and unveil a second economic stimulus package. Even as the Indonesian index was closed for trading on account of a local holiday, the central bank and the country's financial regulator decided to cut trading hours next week as part of their efforts to contain the virus. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS Change on the day Market Current Previous Pct Move close Singapore 2,505.47 2,362.05 6.07 Bangkok 1,080.03 1,033.84 4.47 Manila 5,027.76 4,774.27 5.31 Kuala Lumpur 1,324.5 1,291.14 2.58 Ho Chi Minh 690.25 659.21 4.71 Change so far in 2020 Market Current End 2019 Pct Move Singapore 2,505.47 3,222.83 -22.26 Bangkok 1,080.03 1,579.84 -31.64 Manila 5,027.76 7,815.26 -35.67 Jakarta 3,937.632 6,299.54 -37.49 Kuala Lumpur 1,324.5 1,588.76 -16.63 Ho Chi Minh 690.25 960.99 -28.17 (Reporting by Arpit Nayak; Editing by Devika Syamnath)