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Southeast Asia stocks - Markets rise as China factory activity rebounds

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03/31/2020 | 12:30am EDT
Pedestrian wearing a face mask walks near an overpass with an electronic board showing stock information in Shanghai

Southeast Asian stock markets rose on Tuesday as data showed China factory activity unexpectedly expanded in March after contracting to a record low in the previous month even though the coronavirus pandemic showed few signs of abating.

China's official Purchasing Managers' Index rose to 52 in March from a collapse to a record low of 35.7 in February, but analysts cautioned the index might overstate the true improvement as firms could be reporting expansion after a forced stoppage.

Many also warn that manufacturers and overall economic activity will remain under pressure as the virus continues to spread rapidly around the globe, while governments and central banks continue in their attempts to cushion its impact.

"Asia, having led the world into the coronavirus epidemic, appears to be showing signs of a tentative, if uneven, recovery," OANDA analyst Jeffrey Halley wrote in a note.

Indonesian shares rose as much as 3.5%, underpinned by consumer staples and financials.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said on Monday he planned stricter rules on mobility and social distancing. The country confirmed 130 new virus infections on Sunday, taking the total to 1,285.

Singaporean stocks bounced back, rising as much as 3% in early trade. Index heavyweights Jardine Matheson Holdings and Jardine Strategic Holdings were both up more than 5%.

Thai shares rose up to 2.4%, with financial and energy stocks leading the gains.

Thailand's finance minister said on Monday the new stimulus package to counter the impact of the pandemic would be worth more than 500 billion baht ($15.3 billion), while the central bank said it had further expanded the scope of liquidity support.

Vietnamese equities gained on financials. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Monday ordered the suspension of public transport services to curb the spread of the virus, which is known to have infected 203 people in the country.

Philippine stocks added up to 4%, with big caps SM Investments and Ayala Land rising more than 3% each.

By Arundhati Dutta

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
AYALA LAND, INC. -3.59% 30.9 End-of-day quote.-32.09%
JARDINE MATHESON HOLDINGS LIMITED -4.17% 40.89 End-of-day quote.-26.46%
JARDINE STRATEGIC HOLDINGS LIMITED -4.27% 19.95 End-of-day quote.-34.91%
LETS HOLDINGS GROUP CO., LTD. -1.99% 10.35 End-of-day quote.71.36%
SM INVESTMENTS CORPORATION -0.84% 828 End-of-day quote.-20.61%
WORLD CO., LTD. 1.38% 1327 End-of-day quote.-50.69%
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