SE Asia Stocks-Battered as spread of coronavirus sparks pandemic worries

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 * South Korea hit by upsurge in infections * Malaysia drops amid political tumult * Thailand tumbles nearly 4% * Vietnam drops more than 3% By Soumyajit Saha Feb 24 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets were
thrashed on Monday as a surge in coronavirus infections outside
China fuelled fears of a global pandemic, while Malaysia closed
at an over eight-year low amid political turmoil. Market participants cut exposure to riskier assets across
the region, leading to emerging Asian currencies and equities
posting steep losses. The stock markets in Malaysia and Thailand
closed at multi-year lows. The market movement was "playing into an earlier worry that
even if it (the outbreak) is contained, the economic impact is
far reaching given China's economic heft and influence," said
Vishnu Varathan, head of economics at Mizuho Bank. "The sheer explosion of the rate in (South) Korea has been
quite frightening ... there's a sobering realisation that this
could really impact hard and fast". South Korea raised its infectious disease alert to its
highest level as it reported a jump in new infections, while
Italy sealed off some of its worst affected towns in its fight
to contain what has become the biggest coronavirus outbreak in
Europe. Malaysian shares dropped over 2.7% to close at their
lowest in over eight years after the sell-off was exacerbated by
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's shock resignation amid a power
tussle, leaving the government in limbo. "In any case, we expect Malaysian assets to remain under
pressure in the interim until the dust settles," Varathan said
in a note to clients. Indonesian stocks closed at an over 15-month low,
while the rupiah, which has held up better against its
Asian peers due to its carry trade appeal, fell as much as 0.9%. Losses among financial stocks weighed on the Thai benchmark as it closed down nearly 4%, the index's lowest close in
three years. Heavyweights Kasikornbank and Siam Commercial
Bank fell 3.4% and 4.1% respectively. Vietnam stocks saw their worst trading session in
almost a month as they plummeted over 3%. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS STOCK MARKETS Change on the day Market Current Previous Pct Move close Singapore 3142.2 3181.03 -1.22 Bangkok 1435.56 1495.09 -3.98 Manila 7187.44 7369.78 -2.47 Jakarta 5807.05 5882.255 -1.28 Kuala Lumpur 1490.06 1531.2 -2.69 Ho Chi Minh 903.34 933.09 -3.19 Change so far in 2020 Market Current End 2019 Pct Move Singapore 3142.2 3222.83 -2.50 Bangkok 1435.56 1579.84 -9.13 Manila 7187.44 7,815.26 -8.03 Jakarta 5807.05 6,299.54 -7.82 Kuala Lumpur 1490.06 1588.76 -6.21 Ho Chi Minh 903.34 960.99 -6.00 (Reporting by Soumyajit Saha in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju
Samuel) 

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