By Pranav A K
Most Southeast Asian stocks fell in low-volume trade on Wednesday as poor economic data capped risk sentiment, but Vietnam jumped more than 2% to its best session in more than a month.
Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said on Tuesday that the country would try to keep economic growth above 5% this year, above estimates from the International Monetary Fund, as activity resumes after a coronavirus lockdown.
Malaysian shares, which led losses in the region, were flat through most of the session but dropped shortly before trading closed to end 0.9% lower.
The country reported 45 new confirmed coronavirus cases, compared with the 30 new cases reported on Tuesday, as it entered the third day of relaxed curbs on movement and businesses.
Shares of Malaysia's biggest palm oil producer Sime Darby shed 3%, while Hartalega Holdings lost 2.2%.
The Philippine bourse pared some earlier losses to close 0.6% lower.
Profit-taking on Ayala Corp, Ayala Land and Metro Pacific Investments sent the country's benchmark index sharply lower earlier in the session, said Frances Nicole L Samorano, a research analyst at RCBC Securities.
The stocks surged on Tuesday after President Rodrigo Duterte apologised to the owners of the companies.
A sharp contraction in the country's exports and imports in March also weighed on sentiment.
Indonesian equities shed 0.5% after the country's consumer confidence index plunged to its lowest level in 12 years in April, a day after data showed first-quarter GDP grew at its weakest pace since 2001.
"Rising (coronavirus) cases in the country are sapping the already non-existent confidence that Indonesians had in the government's handling of the crisis. The data we are seeing is confirming those fears," said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.
Singapore's index gained 0.8% in thin trade, with Singapore Airlines jumping 5.7% to a near 2-month high.
"Singapore has moved higher with the rest of Asia's broad move after U.S. stocks gained overnight. The main driver continues to be that we have seen the peak of the virus (in the U.S.)," Halley said.
Thai stock markets were closed for a public holiday.
(Reporting by A K Pranav in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath)