• Tue. Oct 20th, 2020

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EMERGING MARKETS-S.Korean stocks drop 1%, other Asian markets muted on virus woes

    * Graphic: World FX rates tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh
    * Graphic: Foreign flows into Asian stocks tmsnrt.rs/3lKhL5I
    * Taiwan dollar hits seven-year high
    * Indonesia's rupiah at highest since Sept 2

    By Anushka Trivedi
    Sept 21 (Reuters) - South Korean stocks declined 1% on
Monday in a broad-based sell-off, while other Asian markets
traded within a range as rising COVID-19 cases locally and in
Europe dampened investor sentiment.
    South Korea's tech-heavy main index hit a more than
one-week low despite solid export data, while Singapore,
Philippine and Malaysian markets were largely
flat.
    Investor sentiment was hit as European nations from Spain to
 Denmark imposed new restrictions to contain surging coronavirus
infections in some of their largest cities while Britain was
reported to be contemplating reinstating lockdown.
    Risks of increased military tensions between the United
States and China as some Washington officials visited Taiwan
last week also added to concerns.
    "Uncertainties arising from potential worsening of COVID-19
infections, the U.S. election outcome (in November) and the
possible escalation of geopolitical tensions in the run-up to
the elections cloud the picture for equities," Manishi
Raychaudhuri, managing director, head of equity research -
Asia-Pacific at BNP Paribas, wrote in a note.
    Asian currencies were firmer against the U.S. dollar, with
Taiwan's dollar advancing 0.7% to a seven-year high.
    Indonesia's rupiah built on Friday's gains, rising
0.3% to its highest since Sept. 2. 
    The currency has been under pressure this month on concerns
over rising coronavirus cases and the central bank's
independence, but a decision last week to keep rates steady
seems to have settled some of the jitters.
    S&P Global signalled on Friday that Indonesia should handle
any changes to the central bank law carefully to prevent any
pressure on its markets and sovereign rating. 
    Meanwhile, the Thai baht firmed to a three-week
high before paring gains to trade around 0.1% higher, ahead of a
central bank meeting later in the week where interest rates are
expected to be held at a record low.
    The baht and local stocks also got some relief from
the latest round of anti-government protests not descending into
violence as they usually have in the past, said Kobsidthi
Silpachai, head of capital markets research at Kasikornbank.

    However, he said the Bank of Thailand's meeting on Wednesday
and call for a strike by protesters on Oct. 24 "would discourage
traders from putting on a lot of positions onto the currency."
    Providing additional support to the Thai markets was the
passing of a $106 billion budget bill for 2021 by the parliament
on Friday to revive Southeast Asia's second-largest economy from
a collapse in tourism and exports due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    HIGHLIGHTS
    
    ** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields are down
4 basis points at 6.874%
    ** Thailand's Siam Commercial Bank down 0.7% after
demonstrators call for a boycott
    ** Top losers on the Jakarta stock index include Dwi
Guna Laksana Tbk PT down 7%, Dian Swastatika Sentosa
Tbk PT down 6.97%
    
  Asia stock indexes and currencies at                               
 0644 GMT                                                      
 COUNTRY   FX RIC      FX DAILY %  FX YTD %    INDEX   STOCKS  STOCKS
                                                      DAILY %   YTD %
 Japan                      +0.24     +4.13            0.00     0.29
 China                      +0.16     +3.02             -0.70    8.67
 India                      +0.16     -2.66             -0.09   -5.53
 Indonesi                   +0.26     -5.53             -0.61  -20.18
 a                                                             
 Malaysia                   -0.02     -0.58              0.07   -5.10
 Philippi                   +0.13     +4.66              0.01  -24.39
 nes                                                           
 S.Korea                    +0.20     -0.14             -0.95    8.72
 Singapor                   +0.36     -0.75              0.00  -22.50
 e                                                             
 Taiwan                     +0.56     +3.85             -0.63    6.65
 Thailand                   +0.13     -3.76              0.20  -18.28
 
 (Reporting by Anushka Trivedi in Bengaluru)
  

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