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SE Asia Stocks-Most climb on optimism over easing coronavirus restrictions

Nikhil Subba

* The Philippines top gainer in region * Malaysia policy decision later in the day * Thailand falls By Nikhil Subba May 5 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets on Tuesday clawed back some ground lost in the previous session, as phased easing of coronavirus restrictions by some countries and U.S. states bolstered hopes of an economic recovery. Sentiment was also aided by a firmer finish on Wall Street overnight, as a rally in tech stocks eclipsed worries about simmering U.S.-China tensions over the coronavirus' origin. "Investors seemed to take comfort in the announcements of the gradual re-opening of countries and regions that were hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic," analysts at Mizuho said in a note. Philippine shares rose as much as 1.3% and led gains in the region, after data showed annual inflation eased to a five-month low in April. Economists said the easing trend in inflation would provide the central bank greater room to cut interest rates and reduce banks' reserve requirement ratio to support growth. Meanwhile, shares of conglomerates Ayala Corp and Metro Pacific Investments Corp climbed 6.8% and 8.8%, respectively, after President Rodrigo Duterte apologised to the firms' owners for his "hurting words". Singapore's Straits Times Index advanced up to 1.2%, lifted by financials and energy-related stocks, which got a boost from higher oil prices. DBS Group Holdings Ltd, Southeast Asia's biggest lender, firmed 0.8%, while conglomerate Keppel Corp gained more than 3%. Malaysian stocks rose over 1%, helped by Petronas Chemicals Group's 3.7% gain, and Axiata Group's more than 2% rise. The country's central bank began its two-day monetary policy meeting on Monday, with a rate decision due later on Tuesday. However, Thai stocks declined about 1.8%, on course to end a four-session winning streak - a period during which they added nearly 3.5%. "Thai stocks look set to start the week with a downward bias ... to play catch-up with losses in overseas bourses when the Thai stock market was closed on Friday and Monday," analysts at Phillip Securities said in a note. For Asian Companies click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS AS AT 0326 GMT Change on the day Market Current Previous close Pct Move Singapore 2586.74 2563.69 0.90 Bangkok 1284.32 1301.66 -1.33 Manila 5651.91 5572.09 1.43 Jakarta 4646.67 4605.487 0.89 Kuala Lumpur 1390.17 1376.59 0.99 Ho Chi Minh 761.07 762.47 -0.18 Change so far in 2020 Market Current End 2019 Pct Move Singapore 2586.74 3222.83 -19.74 Bangkok 1284.32 1579.84 -18.71 Manila 5651.91 7,815.26 -27.68 Jakarta 4646.67 6,299.54 -26.24 Kuala Lumpur 1390.17 1588.76 -12.50 Ho Chi Minh 761.07 960.99 -20.80 (Reporting by Nikhil Subba in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni)