EMERGING MARKETS-Recovery fears hit South Korea's won as U.S. dollar firms
By Shriya Ramakrishnan
Aug 24 (Reuters) - South Korea's won was the biggest loser on Monday as a modest recovery in the U.S. dollar pulled emerging currencies across Asia lower ahead of a week likely to be dominated by the U.S. Federal Reserve's annual Jackson Hole gathering.
Some of the foreign exchange market's big players have begun to suggest the dollar's slide since May may be overdone and upbeat U.S. data on Friday, along with signs of progress on coronavirus vaccines, have reinforced that view.
The won KRW=KFTC slipped as much as 0.5% after South Korea's central bank chief warned that a recent surge in coronavirus infections will likely weaken its economic recovery.
Indonesia's rupiah IDR=, the Malaysian ringgit MYR=MY and Singapore dollar SGD= all traded flat to lower against the dollar, while the Taiwanese dollar TWD=TP was the sole gainer, up about 0.5%.
Bank of Korea holds its monetary policy meeting on Thursday, with analysts at Goldman Sachs expecting the central bank to keep its key policy rate steady at a record low of 0.5%.
Gains in pharmaceutical shares, however, pushed Seoul's stock market .KS11 up about 1%.
Fed chair Jerome Powell will address on Thursday the Jackson Hole gathering, being held virtually due to the coronavirus, with investors also eagerly awaiting details on possible changes to how the Fed targets inflation.
Policymakers' concern about the pace of recovery in minutes from the central bank's July meeting pushed stocks and most emerging markets lower last week but business surveys on Friday were more encouraging.
That optimism, combined with signs authorities will move quickly to approve and distribute COVID-19 vaccines pushed most stock markets higher, but a 1% loss in Philippine shares showed how rising infections are still taking a toll on financial assets .PSI
"Prices are struggling to find a strong driver given the mixed developments," said Jingyi Pan, a market strategist at IG Asia.
"It seems that broadly the market is taking a breather at the start of the week, waiting on items ranging the Jackson Hole symposium to the U.S.-China trade talks."
Last week, the Trump administration and China differed over plans for a meeting over the Phase 1 trade deal, originally envisioned for the Aug. 15 six-month anniversary of the trade deal's launch.
The Philippines, resuming trade after a long weekend, reported its smallest daily rise in new coronavirus infections in a month on Sunday, but the nationwide tally was still the highest in Southeast Asia.
** Malaysia's 10-year benchmark yield MY10YT=RR is up 2.3 basis points at 2.556%, while its 3-year benchmark yield MY3YT=RR is up 2 basis points at 1.842%
** Top gainers on the Thailand's SETI .SETI Thailand Hospitality Property Fund TLHPFu.BK up 13.29% at 9.8 baht, Asiasoft Corporation PCL AS.BK up 11.11% at 4.2 baht
** In the Philippines, top index losers are JG Summit Holdings Inc JGS.PS down 2.13% at 62.1 peso; Alliance Global Group Inc AGI.PS down 2.1% at 6.07 peso; SM Investments Corp SM.PS down 2% at 882 peso
Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0423 GMT
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(Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)
((Shriya.Ramakrishnan@thomsonreuters.com; +91 8061822842 ;))
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