SE Asia Stocks-Indonesia up 2% on hopes of foreign inflows; Philippines ends higher

By Shruti Sonal

* Indonesian shares close at highest level in a week * Thai govt. announces $3.2 billion stimulus package * Philippines reverses early losses to end higher By Shruti Sonal March 4 (Reuters) - Indonesian stocks closed up over 2% on Wednesday as the country's central bank said foreign inflows could be triggered by the U.S. Fed's rate cut, while the Philippine index reversed early losses just before the bell to end higher. Indonesia's benchmark closed at a week-high after its finance minister predicted investors would pour money back into assets in countries with good economic prospects — including Indonesia — following the U.S. Federal Reserve's rate cut of 50 basis points. To further reassure investors, the country's central bank governor said it has "many instruments" to prop up economic growth amid the risk of slowdown due to the epidemic and “more than enough" foreign exchange reserves to maintain market stability. Financials led the gains, with Bank Central Asia Tbk PT rising nearly 3% and Bank Permata Tbk PT gaining 6%. Meanwhile, a late bout of buying lifted the Philippine benchmark, with the index ending 1.1% higher after falling as much as 1.2% earlier in the session. "The last-minute buying doesn't quite reflect overall sentiment and trading direction," said Nicholas Mapa, senior economist at ING, as "market sentiment continues to be weighed down by Covid-19 concerns despite bold monetary stimulus from the Fed". Investors will be largely looking to the local government's response to stem the fallout from the virus outbreak for further direction, Mapa added. Robinsons Land Corp gained 6.5% and was the highest percentage gainer on the benchmark. Most other indexes managed to hold on to slim gains at close even as sentiment remained shaky. Thai equities pared early losses to end marginally higher after the country's finance ministry said it will propose a package of measures worth more than 100 billion baht ($3.2 billion) next week to alleviate the impact of the coronavirus epidemic. Malaysian shares climbed nearly 0.8%, lifted by financial and telecom stocks. Data showed January exports dropped 1.5% from a year earlier, marginally better than the 1.6% fall forecast by analysts surveyed in a Reuters poll. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS STOCK MARKETS Change on the day Market Current Previous close Pct Move Singapore 3025.03 3019.56 0.18 Bangkok 1378.61 1375.02 0.26 Manila 6867.26 6790.54 1.13 Jakarta 5650.136 5518.628 2.38 Kuala Lumpur 1489.95 1478.64 0.76 Ho Chi Minh 889.37 890.61 -0.14 Change so far in 2020 Market Current End 2019 Pct Move Singapore 3025.03 3222.83 -6.14 Bangkok 1378.61 1579.84 -12.74 Manila 6867.26 7,815.26 -12.13 Jakarta 5650.136 6,299.54 -10.31 Kuala Lumpur 1489.95 1588.76 -6.22 Ho Chi Minh 889.37 960.99 -7.45 (Reporting by Shruti Sonal; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)