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SE Asia Stocks -- Trade subdued ahead of holidays, WHO meeting on virus outbreak

Thursday, January 23, 2020, 10:56 GMT+7
SE Asia Stocks -- Trade subdued ahead of holidays, WHO meeting on virus outbreak
A woman looks at a screen displaying market data inside the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, in this file photo

Most Southeast Asian stock markets were little changed on Wednesday, while trading was thin as investors stayed on the sidelines ahead of Lunar New Year holidays and a World Health Organisation (WHO) meeting on the virus outbreak in China.

The WHO will consider whether to designate the outbreak an international public health emergency.

Chinese officials said 440 people were confirmed infected, with nine deaths.

Markets are watching for further developments in the fight to contain the coronavirus and any decision by the WHO will affect risk sentiment, KGI Securities' analyst Joel Ng said.

Indonesian stocks snapped two sessions of losses, helped by gains in financials.

Bank Central Asia and Bank Mandiri (Persero) gained 0.9 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.

The country's central bank said it targets the economy to grow at 5.1 percent to 5.5 percent this year, a slight increase from 2019, and will continue with accommodative monetary policy to support growth.

Separately, a senior central bank official said it was prepared to support stability of the rupiah currency through market intervention amid heightened risk from the virus outbreak in China.

Vietnam's benchmark touched a two-month high as financial shares rallied.

Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam rose 0.7 percent and Vietnam Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Industry and Trade gained 1.4 percent.

European Union lawmakers gave initial backing on Tuesday for a free trade agreement struck with Vietnam, the bloc's most comprehensive such pact with a developing country. 

Malaysian stocks edged higher ahead of the central bank's overnight policy rate decision, where it is expected to keep its benchmark interest rate unchanged, according to a Reuters poll.

Meanwhile, government data showed that December's consumer price index rose one percent from a year earlier, as expected, driven by expansion in all but two sectors tracked by the index.

Hospital operator IHH Healthcare rose 2.5 percent, while medical device maker Top Glove Corp was 5.7 percent higher.

Reuters

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