EMERGING MARKETS-Thai baht hits one-month low as finance minister resigns
By Shriya Ramakrishnan
July 16 (Reuters) - The Thai baht fell to a one-month low on Thursday after the surprise resignation of the country's finance minister, while the Indonesian rupiah weakened as investors braced for a fourth interest rate cut this year.
Leading declines among Asian currencies, the baht THB=TH fell as much as 0.6% to 31.69 against the greenback, while Thai stocks .SETI were flat following their best session in two weeks on Wednesday.
The departure of Thailand's Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana comes as the government rolls out billions of dollars of stimulus to drive a post-pandemic recovery in Southeast Asia's worst performing economy.
Christopher Wong, senior FX strategist at Maybank in Singapore, said Uttama's departure "raises concerns if the implementation of fiscal stimuli support would be affected in the near term."
In Indonesia, the rupiah IDR= shed as much as 0.2%, while the stock index .JKSE gained about half a percent ahead of a central bank meeting. A slim majority of analysts polled by Reuters expect Bank Indonesia (BI) to cut its benchmark rate by 25 basis points to 4.00%, the lowest since at least 2016, as it tackles a slowdown in growth and inflation in Southeast Asia's largest economy.
The rupiah is down about 5% against the dollar so far this year, shedding 3% in the past three weeks alone.
"While there has been a relative uptick in rupiah volatility of late, on balance, it is probably not enough for them to pause at this stage," analysts at OCBC Bank said in a note.
The South Korean won KRW=KFTC and equities .KS11 dipped as the Bank of Korea kept its key policy rate on hold but Governor Lee Ju-yeol outlined a bleak outlook for the trade-reliant economy due to weaker exports.
Philippine stocks .PSI outperformed equity markets across Asia as investors bought into beaten down blue chip stocks following steep declines in the Manila benchmark index in the previous session.
** Thailand's 10-year government bond yields are down 0.5 basis points at 1.27%
** In the Philippines, top index gainers are Bloomberry Resorts Corp BLOOM.PS up 9.32% at 7.27 peso, Metro Pacific Investments Corp MPI.PS up 5.68% at 3.35 peso, First Gen Corp FGEN.PS up 5.16% at 23.45 peso
** Top losers on the Singapore STI .STI include: Genting Singapore Ltd GENS.SI down 1.91% at S$0.77; Comfortdelgro Corporation Ltd CMDG.SI down 1.35% at S$1.46
Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0410 GMT
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(Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; editing by Jane Wardell)
((Shriya.Ramakrishnan@thomsonreuters.com; +91 8061822842 ;))
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