EMERGING MARKETS-Philippine stocks eye best week since June as virus slows
By Rashmi Ashok
Oct 23 (Reuters) - Philippine stocks surged 2% on Friday and were set to end the week with their biggest gain since June, bolstered by the easing of restrictions in capital Manila as new coronavirus cases showed signs of slowing.
Broader Asian stocks were also firmer, after better-than-expected U.S. jobs data and signs of progress in talks for a $2 trillion stimulus deal in Washington supported U.S. equities overnight.
The Philippine index .PSI is on track for a near 10% weekly gain, with shares of food and real-estate companies climbing most, as investors hoped for increased footfall in malls and hotels after curfew hours were trimmed earlier this week.
The rally was boosted further by foreign investors, as new daily coronavirus cases slowed in the last week and the government moved to reopen the economy, signalling better economic prospects, said Nicholas Mapa, ING's senior economist for the Philippines.
"This may be the reason for the recent rally, but we'll have to monitor the COVID-19 developments going forward," he cautioned.
Data from Refinitiv showed that foreigners, while still net sellers of Philippine equities so far in October, pumped in about 557.44 million pesos ($11.5 million) into Philippine equities across the last two sessions.
Yields on the Philippine ten-year benchmark bond PH10YT=RR, usually seen as a safer investment than stocks, have also climbed recently, signalling the return of optimism.
Taiwan's dollar TWD=TP saw most of the action for the day, adding nearly 1% to continue its bullish run, after data on Tuesday showed export orders rose for the seventh consecutive month in September.
While the coronavirus pandemic and U.S.-China trade tensions remain sources of concern, the upcoming shopping season in the United States and Europe and the work-from-home trend that has helped demand for the country's tech products should keep export demand steady, Taiwan's finance ministry recently forecast.
In the week ahead, focus will turn towards third-quarter gross domestic product data from Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan, where investors will look for signs of some economic recovery from the easing of lockdown curbs which battered the second-quarter showing.
Thailand will release manufacturing data for September, while Malaysia's exports and Singapore's industrial production will also be released.
** In the Philippines, top index gainers were LT Group Inc LTG.PS, up 9.03%, and Aboitiz Power Corp AP.PS, up 5.48%
** Top gainers on the Singapore STI .STI included Comfortdelgro Corp CMDG.SI, up 1.41%, and Sembcorp Industries Ltd SCIL.SI, trading 1.4% higher
** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields are up 2.2 basis points at 6.63% while 3-year benchmark yields are down 0.5 basis points at 5.262%
Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0412 GMT
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(Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Gaurav Dogra; Editing by Sam Holmes)
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