The Philippine Stock Exchange Index plunged 6.8% Monday, the most since October 2008 and taking its slide from a July high to 25%. With a 6.6% slump, the Jakarta Composite Index closed 23% below a record reached in February 2018.
The markets are following their Malaysia and Thailand peers, which entered bear territory in the last week of February, while Japanese and Singaporean shares also plunged into the bear zone Monday.
Even though Indonesia and the Philippines have reported few coronavirus cases, fears over the economic impact of the outbreak are growing as the epidemic has reached about half of the world’s countries. Adding to that, oil prices crashed Monday after a breakdown of talks between OPEC and Russia on how to manage the world’s supply, sending shock waves through markets.
"Cash is king for now for we don’t know how the global economy is exactly affected,” said Manny Cruz, a strategist at Papa Securities in Manila.
"What disruption has the virus created and what extent of a slowdown that we will see in the global economy? The crash in global oil prices will create more panic.”
Foreigners have been fleeing South-East Asian markets this year.
Through Friday, they pulled $393 million from Philippine equity funds and US$462mil from Indonesian ones. Valuations for the Philippine benchmark index have sank to 12.4 times earnings projected for the next year, the lowest since November 2011, and to 12 for the Jakarta gauge, the lowest since October 2015, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Indonesia’s central bank is stepping up efforts to shield the economy. It’s already cut reserve ratios and signaled more measures to stem a rout in the rupiah and the nation’s bonds, while the government announced $742 million in stimulus. The Financial Services Authority said it will allow companies to buy back shares without shareholders’ approval and ease rules on loan restructuring for sectors hurt by the public health emergency. The nation’s stock exchange banned short selling and said it has other tools in the pipeline to ensure market stability.
That hasn’t prevented a worsening of the stock rout, though.
For the Philippines, many analysts and investors came into 2020 with an optimistic outlook, even though they were already hit by President Rodrigo Duterte’s verbal attacks on some of the nation’s biggest business groups for contracts he alleged were disadvantageous to the public. But the virus shattered all the hopes. Duterte declared a state of public health emergency after a local transmission, and several cities have suspended classes.
The Philippine equity index closed at its lowest level since January 2016, while the Indonesian gauge ended at its lowest since December of that year.
"The rising number of the infected by the virus locally and globally is pushing the bear out of the cage,” said Jonathan Ravelas, chief market strategist at BDO Unibank Inc.
"It seems the fear is yet to peak and until we see the outbreak is contained and a recovery in confidence we could stay in bear territory for awhile. As countries pursue containment and isolation, growth could further slow down and bring with it earnings.” - Bloomberg