SE Asia Stocks-Utilities drive Philippines 3% higher; Malaysia rises on oil

By Shruti Sonal

* Philippines sees best session since Jan 2019 * Malaysia rises most since June 2018 By Shruti Sonal March 11 (Reuters) - Philippine shares jumped 3% on Wednesday in their biggest intraday gain since January 2019, driven by utilities after reports said President Rodrigo Duterte was willing to meet and talk with two Metro Manila water firms to settle a government dispute over water contracts. Ayala Corp, Manila Water Co's biggest shareholder and index heavyweight, jumped 6%, while DMCI Holdings, a major shareholder of Maynilad Water Services, gained nearly 3%. Richard Laneda, a research analyst at COL Financial Group, attributed the gains to the reports and bargain-hunting by some investors. Last year, the water regulator had cancelled the extension of concession deals with Manila Water Coand Maynilad Water, the country's two largest utilities, on pressure from Duterte. Among other markets in Southeast Asia, Malaysia gained as much as 1.6% in its best intraday session since June 2018 on the back of higher oil prices. Lifting sentiment further, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said the cabinet had agreed to set up an economic action council to tackle issues affecting the economy, including a drop in global oil prices and a coronavirus outbreak. Singapore shares fell as much as 0.9%, dragged by real estate stocks. CapitaLand Commercial Trust slid more than 3.5%. Indonesian equities were relatively flat after Tuesday's 1.6% jump as the central bank governor said Bank Indonesia was likely to revise down its outlook for 2020 economic growth at its next policy meeting. Meanwhile, broader Asia fell as investors were worried whether government and central bank measures would be enough to cushion the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak. The White House and Congress negotiated measures on Tuesday to bolster the U.S. economy and Americans' paychecks against the outbreak's impact, but there was no immediate sign of a deal. "The details of the fiscal support off the US remains uncertain at this point", said Jingyi Pan, a market strategist at IG. China and South Korea reported an uptick in new confirmed cases of infections, even as the number of people infected with the coronavirus topped 116,000 across the world. "Although President Xi Jinping's visit to Wuhan and the steady improvement in the coronavirus situation in China had restored some confidence, the same containment efforts may not be applicable for replication elsewhere," Pan added. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS 0357 Change on the day Market Current Previous close Pct Move Singapore 2812.41 2832.54 -0.71 Bangkok 1275.46 1271.25 0.33 Manila 6472.11 6318.38 2.43 Jakarta 5224.735 5220.826 0.07 Kuala Lumpur 1449.97 1430.47 1.36 Ho Chi Minh 826.44 837.5 -1.32 Change so far in 2020 Market Current End 2019 Pct Move Singapore 2812.41 3222.83 -12.73 Bangkok 1275.46 1579.84 -19.27 Manila 6472.11 7,815.26 -17.19 Jakarta 5224.735 6,299.54 -17.06 Kuala Lumpur 1449.97 1588.76 -8.74 Ho Chi Minh 826.44 960.99 -14.00 (Reporting by Shruti Sonal; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)