EMERGING MARKETS-Asian FX, stocks retreat on virus fears; Singapore shares gain
By Shriya Ramakrishnan
Oct 16 (Reuters) - Asia's emerging currencies and stocks fell on Friday as resurgent COVID-19 infections and stalled progress towards U.S. stimulus dented confidence globally, while Singapore shares drew some support from a rise in the city-state's exports.
Sentiment has taken a hit this week after high-profile COVID-19 vaccine trials were halted, while a political tussle in Malaysia and anti-government protests in Thailand have also steered investors away from riskier assets in the region.
Shares in Bangkok .SETI dropped to their lowest level in two weeks and were on course to record a weekly decline of more than 2%, while the baht THB=TH traded largely flat.
Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Friday he was not resigning after tens of thousands of anti-government protesters defied a ban on demonstrations under emergency measures that he said would last up to 30 days.
Southeast Asia's second-largest economy has been hit by three months of protests pushing for Prayuth's removal, a new constitution and a reduction in the powers of the king.
"Markets will keenly monitor the situation in Thailand, particularly gauging any impact of the emergency decree on mobility and activity trends locally," said Nupur Gupta, a portfolio manager at Eastspring Investments.
"If activity in retail outlets, restaurants, etc is substantially affected due to the decree, markets may start discounting even weaker fundamentals, in addition to the already low expectations on tourism activity."
Losses in South Korean shares outpaced those elsewhere in Asia, with the benchmark KOSPI .KS11 falling up to 1.5% during the day even as domestic coronavirus infections dropped.
Indonesian shares .JKSE fell 0.6%, a day after the country overtook the Philippines as the Southeast Asian country with the highest coronavirus cases.
The rupiah IDR= and won KRW=KFTC were the worst hit among Asian currencies, weakening 0.6% and 0.4%, respectively, against a stronger greenback as the broader risk aversion had nervous investors seeking safer assets.
Singapore shares .STI, which initially rose as much as 0.9%, surrendered some of those gains to trade 0.3% higher.
Data released in early Asian trading hours showed Singapore's non-oil domestic exports expanded for a fourth consecutive month in September, rising 5.9% from a year earlier, driven by a jump in shipments from its key electronics sector.
** Thailand's 10-year government bond yields are down 0.5 basis points at 1.37%
** In the Philippines, top index losers are Puregold Price Club Inc PGOLD.PS down 4.39% at 41.4 peso; Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc AEV.PS down 4.13% at 42.95 peso; JG Summit Holdings Inc JGS.PS down 3.24% at 59.7 peso
** Top gainers on the Singapore STI .STI include Wilmar International Ltd WLIL.SI up 2.98% at S$4.49, Venture Corporation Ltd VENM.SI up 1.9% at S$20.9, Yangzijiang Shipbuilding Holdings Ltd YAZG.SI up 1.58% at S$0.965
Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0638 GMT
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(Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni)
((Shriya.Ramakrishnan@thomsonreuters.com; +91 8061822842 ;))
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