Thai baht, Malaysian stocks suffer as virus woes escalate


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Thailand’s baht was stuck at a near

15-month low on Monday while Malaysian stocks missed out on a

broader rally in Asian equities as investors fretted over rising

coronavirus cases and deaths in the two countries.

The baht gave up 0.3% and held near its weakest

mark since April 2020 – a level it hit in the previous session –

after Thailand reported record COVID-19 cases over the weekend,

including infections in medical workers who had received two

doses of China’s Sinovac vaccine.

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The currency is already the region’s worst performer so far

this year as the pandemic weighs on the tourism-reliant economy

and cases soar after a well-controlled first wave last year.

Malaysia’s stock market dipped 0.3% and yields on

its 10-year benchmark bonds rose 5 basis points

after two consecutive days of record virus cases.

With Indonesia and the Philippines also struggling to

contain the virus in recent months, a sustained economic

recovery remains a challenge for Southeast Asia.

“A key realization is that for most of EM Asia (ex-China) a

fuller and unfettered recovery from COVID will be delayed to

2022,” analysts at Mizuho bank said in a note, also pointing to

a lagging vaccine rollout.

“Even with doubled down vaccine procurement or scaled up

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inoculation plans, a clear path does not emerge until 2022.”

But most regional share markets rallied following China’s

policy easing on Friday, while dealers awaited a slew of Chinese

data as well as inflation figures from the United States which

could direct the Federal Reserve’s view on early tapering this

week.

Equities in China jumped 1%, setting the stage for

Taiwan’s benchmark bourse and South Korea’s KOSPI

to follow suit, while Japan’s benchmark Nikkei average

surged over 2%.

The Philippine peso, which has been under pressure

from rising inflation and a burgeoning trade deficit, weakened

0.2%, even as the central bank committed to a market-determined

foreign exchange rate and an accommodative monetary policy to

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support the economy.

Stocks in Manila added 0.6% though, helped by upbeat

regional sentiment and after coronavirus curbs in parts of the

Philippines were relaxed on Friday.

HIGHLIGHTS:

** Malaysia’s 10-year benchmark yield is up 5.5 basis points

at 3.249%.

** Top gainers on the Jakarta stock index include Allo Bank

Indonesia up 25%, Primarindo Asia Infrastructure

up 18%, and Siloam International Hospitals

up 14.78%.

** Top losers on FTSE Bursa Malaysia include Mr DIY Group M

Bhd down 2.19%, Press Metal Aluminium down

1.84%, and Genting Malaysia down 1.07%.

Asia stock indexes and

currencies at 0331 GMT

COUNTRY FX RIC FX FX INDE STOCK STOCK

DAILY YTD % X S S YTD

% DAILY %

%

Japan -0.01 -6.27 <.n2>

China EC>

India +0.00 -2.11 <.ns ei>

Indones +0.28 -3.07 <.jk ia se>

Malaysi +0.00 -4.03 <.kl a se>

Philipp -0.30 -4.23 <.ps ines i>

S.Korea 11>

Singapo -0.06 -2.25 <.st re i>

Taiwan +0.26 +1.68 <.tw ii>

Thailan -0.12 -8.10 <.se d ti>

(Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da

Costa)

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In-depth reporting on the innovation economy from The Logic, brought to you in partnership with the Financial Post.

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