(Feb 27): Most Southeast Asian stocks ended higher on Thursday after a heavy selloff in the previous session that was triggered by fears of a global coronavirus pandemic as several countries reported a spike in cases.
Gains were driven by advances in Thai shares as investors picked up beaten-down stocks, while Malaysia and the Philippines gained on hopes of monetary easing and stimulus measures to cushion the blow of the outbreak.
Hundreds of new cases were reported in Asia on Wednesday, while the flu-like virus was also detected for the first time in Latin America, Pakistan, Sweden, Norway, Greece, Romania and Algeria.
The Thai index rose 2.1%, recording its best session in 17 months. Heavyweights Siam Cement and Advanced Info rose as much as 3.2% and 4.1%, respectively.
The Philippine central bank said it would consider more rate cuts, helping the local bourse recover from a 3.9% plunge on Wednesday.
Also boosting sentiment was the "absence of additional cases in the country amid a rapid rise (in virus cases) globally," said Lius Limlingan, managing director at Regina Capital Development Corp.
Security Bank Corp gained 5.1%, while BDO Unibank recorded its best day since mid-Sept 2018 after reporting a 35% jump in full-year profit.
Malaysian stocks also gained 0.7% ahead of an expected announcement of a long-awaited economic stimulus package.
Malayan Banking rose 2.3% and Hong Leong Bank 1.8%, buoyed by higher quarterly numbers.
Indonesian stocks plunged to a near three-year low, pulled lower by financials.
One of the biggest drags on the index was Bank Rakyat Indonesia, which slumped to its worst day in over seven years as it traded ex-dividend.
Indonesia's state-owned enterprises minister said on Wednesday the government is looking at Bank Rakyat Indonesia working with two state financial firms to tap synergies and avoid overlaps.
The Singapore bourse closed 0.2% lower, dragged by real estate stocks, while Vietnam reversed losses from the morning session to close 0.3% higher.
Global economies have taken a big hit on worries of the epidemic's impact, with many countries announcing stimulus measures to provide some support.
Markets have priced in a 45.4% probability of a U.S. rate cut when the Federal Reserve meets in March, up from 6.7% a week earlier, according to the CME FedWatch tool.