SET index, Singapore stocks drop as virus cases outside China jump
Thai shares hit over 3-year closing low
published : 20 Feb 2020 at 18:15
writer: Bangkok Post and Reuters
Shares in coronavirus-hit economies of Thailand and Singapore lost footing on Thursday as a sharp jump in infections outside mainland China overshadowed Beijing's widely-anticipated interest rate cut.
China on Thursday reported a sharp drop in new virus cases, however, infections in South Korea jumped, two deaths were recorded in Japan and research showed that the pathogen was more contagious than previously believed.
The Stock Exchange of Thailand index fell 0.95% or 14.30 points to 1,491.24 to a more than three-year low.
Airports of Thailand Plc, the top drag on the index, slumped 4.8% or 3.25 baht to close at 64.50 baht after flagging a 5% decline in its full-year revenue due to the impact of the virus.
Shares of Central Retail Corporation Plc (CRC) ended 0.60% lower to 41.75 bhat on its first trading day. Thailand's largest retailer had priced its initial public offering at 42 baht per share.
Last week, Thai authorities said tourist numbers this year could fall 12% due to the outbreak. The Bank of Thailand had also warned that economy will grow at a much slower pace than previously forecast this year.
The bleak outlook for 2020 growth continues to weigh on the index, said Mongkol Puangpetra, head of research at KTB Securities (Thailand).
Singaporean shares closed 0.47% lower to end the day at 3,198.68. Heavyweight financials United Overseas Bank and DBS Group Holdings shed 0.7% and 0.8%, respectively. Local media reported that three new cases of the virus were confirmed in the city-state on Wednesday, bringing the total number of infected to 84 - one of the highest tallies outside China.
Singapore, one of the countries outside China hit hardest by the virus, on Tuesday announced around $4.5 billion in financial packages to help contain outbreak's economic impact. Indonesian equities eked out small gains as the central bank cut interest rates to support an economy jolted by a the epidemic, which also prompted Bank Indonesia to lower its 2020 growth outlook.
Earlier in the day, China lowered its benchmark lending rate, in a widely expected move. On the upside, shares in Vietnam ended 1% higher on the back of real estate stocks.