SINGAPORE: Southeast Asian stock markets closed lower on Monday as rising cases of the coronavirus in the region deepened fears of economic damage, with investors looking past moves by governments and central banks to combat the pandemic.
Fresh infections and deaths due to Covid-19 were reported across Southeast Asia, amid calls for restrictions in movements in a few regions where lockdowns weren't already in effect.
Shares in Singapore ended over 4% lower, despite its central bank easing monetary policy sharply, as the city braces for deep recession. The central bank also lowered its official outlook for inflation in 2020.
"Overall, most of the good news on the fiscal and monetary front is now out there," Jeffrey Halley, market analyst at OANDA wrote in a note, adding that barring some remarkable and sudden progress on Covid-19 front, equities are likely to run out of momentum and ready themselves for further losses over the week.
Leading losses in the region, Vietnamese stocks slumped nearly 5%, amid the prime minister's call to prepare for possible lockdown in major cities. The financial and real estate sectors were the top losers.
Indonesian shares recovered from steep losses early in the session and closed down 2.9%. Financials weighed on the index, with PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia (Persero) Tbk and PT Bank Mandiri (Persero) Tbk losing nearly 7% each.
President Joko Widodo said he plans to tighten movement restrictions between regions and implement a large-scale policy of social distancing to curb the virus' spread.
In Malaysia, the benchmark index slipped 1%, with financials Hong Leong Bank Bhd and RHB Bank Bhd among the top losers. Malaysia expects its fiscal deficit to widen to 4% of gross domestic product (GDP) this year, the country's finance minister said, after the unveiling of a US$58bil stimulus to counter the impact of the pandemic on the economy.
A sharp fall in oil prices pushed the energy-heavy Thai index lower, but losses were contained as the finance minister signalled a new stimulus package which he said should be bigger than those already introduced. - Reuters
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