SE Asian stock markets track global equities higher as virus slows

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(April 6): Southeast Asian stock markets inched higher on Monday, tracking global equities that gained due to a slowdown in coronavirus-related deaths and new infections.

Major European nations reported lower fatality rates, with Italy seeing the number of patients in intensive care falling for the second consecutive day. However, a rise in cases and deaths in Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines kept gains in Southeast Asia stocks under check.

Australia's benchmark index rose 0.5%, Japan's Nikkei gained 0.2% and South Korea's KOSPI index climbed 1.4%, while MSCI's broadest index of Asian shares outside of Japan edged up 0.1%

Aiding sentiment further, US stock futures gained more than 1.5% in early Asian trading after US President Donald Trump expressed hope the country was seeing a "levelling off" of the coronavirus crisis.

"There are tentative signs that overall market volatility is easing, " analysts at Maybank said in a note. 

There were signs that markets are becoming "numb" to bad news, and it would take more impactful events or data to shock markets, according to the note. 

The Vietnam benchmark rose for a fourth straight session, up as much as 3.7%,  as financial and real estate stocks jumped. The index was the top gainer in the region.  

The country plans to delay the collection of 180 trillion dong (US$7.6 billion) worth of taxes and land rent to help businesses hit by the pandemic, the Ministry of Finance said on Friday.

Indonesian stocks added as much as 2.6% and hit a three-week high. The financial sector led gains, with PT Bank Central Asia Tbk and PT Bank Mandiri (Persero) Tbk rising up to 2.7% and 4%, respectively.

Singaporean shares climbed more than 2%. Heavyweight financials United Overseas Bank Ltd rose 3% and DBS Group Holdings Ltd advanced 2.1%. 

In the Philippines, the benchmark added up to 1.5%, while Malaysian equities were trading flat. 

Thai markets were closed for a holiday.