MOST Southeast Asian stock markets fell on Tuesday, after Apple Inc said it was unlikely to meet its March-quarter sales guidance as the Covid-19 outbreak slowed production and weakened demand in China.

The warning from the world’s most valuable technology company dashed investor hopes that stimulus measures from China and other countries would protect their economies from the impact of the epidemic.

Shares in Thailand fell 0.9%, even after the central bank governor said the government’s support measures and the passage of a delayed budget bill would help ease the economic blow from Covid-19.

Singapore also announced financial packages worth around US$4.5 bil (RM18.69 bil) to help contain the outbreak and weather its economic impact. However, shares in the city state fell 0.5%.

Both Singapore and Thailand’s economies have been hit by the epidemic. Singapore has lowered its 2020 growth forecast, while Thailand expects tourist numbers to tumble this year.

Heavyweight financials such as DBS Group Holdings and United Overseas Bank were among the top losers in Singapore, while consumer discretionary stocks were the biggest decliners in Thailand.

Vietnam shares slipped for the third straight session, dragged by the real estate sector. Vingroup Joint Stock Company slipped 3.2%.

Meanwhile, Indonesian shares rose on the back of materials and communication services. Cement maker PT Indocement Tunggal Prakarsa Tbk and major telecoms player Telekomunikasi Indonesia added 2.7% and 0.3%, respectively.

Investors now await the central bank’s rate decision due on Thursday, according to Hariyanto Wijaya, head of investment research at Mirae Asset Securities.

A slim majority of analysts polled expects the central bank to resume its easing cycle to counter the economic hit from the epidemic. – Feb 18, 2020, Reuters

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