Most SE Asian stocks up as China cuts key interest rate; Philippines leads gains

Reuters, April 15 - Most Southeast Asian stock markets edged up on Wednesday after the Chinese central bank cut a key interest rate to get its economy back on track amid fears of the worst global economic downturn since the 1930s.

The People's Bank of China (PBOC) on Wednesday cut the interest rate on its medium-term funding for financial institutions to the lowest level on record and paved the way for a similar reduction in benchmark loan rates.

The global economy is expected to shrink by 3.0% during 2020, marking the steepest downturn since the Great Depression, the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday.

In Southeast Asia, Philippine equities led gains as they rose as much as 2.3% to hit a one-month high, with big cap financial stocks Security Bank Corporation and Bank of the Philippine Islands gaining 5.1% and 4.8%, respectively.

Malaysian equities rose for a second straight session, boosted by gains in heavyweights such as power utility Tenaga Nasional and gas processing firm Petronas Gas Bhd.

The Vietnamese benchmark rose up to 0.7%, supported by the financial sector. Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam rose 1.8%.

The Thai index inched up, helped by materials stocks, but losses in the country's prominent energy sector kept a lid on gains.

An overnight drop in oil prices was pressuring the energy sector, according to Kasikorn Securities strategist Sunthorn Thongthip.

Moreover, Thailand's economy is expected to lose 1.3 trillion baht (nearly US$40 billion), almost all of it in the tourism sector, as a fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, a banking association said on Tuesday.

On the downside, Indonesian shares lost up to 0.9%, dragged by losses in communication services stocks. PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia Tbk slumped over 2%.

Shares in Singapore were subdued.

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