Southeast Asian stock markets tracked global equities to close higher on Thursday, with gains led by Vietnamese stocks, as investor sentiment was boosted by hopes of the coronavirus pandemic peaking and stimulus efforts by governments.
Aiding sentiment, Wall Street notched firm gains overnight after New York's governor said social distancing measures are working to keep the pandemic under control in the hard-hit state.
Even as the Trump administration continued to push for an additional $250 billion in emergency economic aid for small U.S. businesses, governments and central banks in Southeast Asia also stepped in to reassure markets.
Vietnamese stocks extended a six-session winning streak to hit their highest close in four weeks after the government approved a plan to delay the collection of VND180 trillion ($7.6 billion) worth of taxes and land rent to help businesses.
Financials led gains, with the Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam adding over 5%.
Indonesian shares shed early losses to close up 0.5% and the rupiah firmed over 2% after the central bank governor said he expected the country's foreign exchange reserves to increase, adding that the currency would also strengthen by the end of the year.
Consumer discretionary stocks gained the most, with conglomerate PT Astra International Tbk adding over 6%.
The Singapore benchmark ended 1.3% higher, lifted by gains in heavyweight financials such as United Overseas Bank Ltd and DBS Group Holdings Ltd.
The Thai index closed 0.4% higher, with gains in financials boosting the index after two of the country's top banks, Kasikornbank and Siam Commercial Bank, cut their loan rates by 40 bps.
This fuelled gains in the financial sector, said Sunthorn Thongthip, Strategist at Kasikorn Securities.
"I think other banks will follow soon. This would help save companies which borrow from banks due to lower funding cost," Thongthip said.
The Malaysian index gained 0.6% while Philippine markets were closed for a holiday.