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EMERGING MARKETS-Thai baht, Malaysian ringgit lead Asian FX gains; stocks slip

reuters.com · 12/30/2021 02:12
EMERGING MARKETS-Thai baht, Malaysian ringgit lead Asian FX gains; stocks slip

Study shows T cells effective at blocking Omicron variant

Thai baht eyes best day in 2 weeks, but down ~10% in 2021

South Korea's won ends 2021 down 8.6%, shares add 3.6%

Philippine equity markets closed for a holiday

By Anushka Trivedi

- The Thai baht and the Malaysian ringgit firmed on Thursday as Asian currencies benefited from receding worries surrounding the Omicron coronavirus variant, although most stock markets dipped in the last trading session of the year for several exchanges.

Despite a surge in global COVID-19 infections, investors seemed to focus more on positive news about the Omicron variant.

Researchers in South Africa found that T cells, a key part of the immune system's second-line defence, are highly effective at recognising and attacking the Omicron strain, preventing most infections from progressing to critical illness. nL8N2TE11Q

The ringgit MYR=MY and the baht THB=TH firmed 0.3% each, the Indian rupee INR=IN rose 0.2%, while most other currencies pared gains to trade flat but eyed a stronger weekly finish.

"One would have to say that the renewed risk appetite from international investors is being most strongly expressed in regional Asian currencies at the moment," said Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst, Asia Pacific OANDA.

"Asian (stocks) are having a mixed day in contrast, and it appears that some pre-New-Years-Eve book squaring is weighing on markets."

Bangkok shares .SETI edged higher, while Malaysia .KLSE, Jakarta .JKSE and Singapore .STI shed between 0.1% and 0.3%, in a low-volume session.

Thursday was also the last trading day for currency and stock markets in Thailand, Taiwan and Indonesia, while Singapore will see a shortened session on Friday.

The baht was set to end the year as the worst-performing Asian currency with a 10.3% drop due to a delayed recovery in tourism, a key source of revenue for the Thai economy. It would be the currency's second consecutive year of losses.

The South Korean won KRW=KFTC traded flat after having hit a two-week high earlier in the session, while stocks .KS11 fell 0.5%. The won closed down 8.6% for the year, while shares added 3.6%.

However, the Asian trade bellwether's November industrial output left something to cheer for as it indicated global chip shortage was easing, with Barclays analysts optimistic that supply-side bottlenecks could see a meaningful resolution in 2022. nP8N2SK0AJ

Chinese shares .SSEC rebounded from a near 1% drop in the previous session, fuelled by gains in the tech sector even as the pandemic situation in the country worsened.

Philippines equity markets .PSI were closed for a holiday and will resume trade on Friday.


HIGHLIGHTS

** Indonesian rupiah IDR= among best performing currencies in 2021, eyes closing down 1.6% versus dollar; stocks up more than 10% in 2021

** Thai stocks set for ~14% gain, rebounding from an 8% drop last year, while Taiwan equities .TWII head for ~24% rise to be the best performer

** The Chinese city of Xian, in its eighth day of lockdown, reported another 155 local COVID-19 cases, taking the total number to its highest seen in any city in the country this yearnL1N2TF00X


Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0639 GMT




COUNTRY

FX RIC

FX DAILY %

FX YTD %

INDEX

STOCKS DAILY %

STOCKS YTD %

Japan

JPY=

-0.18

-10.34

.N225

-0.40

4.91

China

CNY=CFXS

-0.01

+2.51

.SSEC

0.60

4.19

India

INR=IN

+0.19

-2.05

.NSEI

0.09

23.23

Indonesia

IDR=

-0.13

-1.60

.JKSE

-0.01

10.38

Malaysia

MYR=

+0.22

-3.62

.KLSE

-0.29

-5.32

Philippines

PHP=

+0.00

-5.92

.PSI

---

2.73

S.Korea

KRW=KFTC

-0.19

-8.63

.KS11

-0.52

3.63

Singapore

SGD=

-0.07

-2.38

.STI

-0.19

10.14

Taiwan

TWD=TP

+0.03

+2.90

.TWII

-0.16

23.66

Thailand

THB=TH

+0.42

-10.16

.SETI

0.22

14.32



Graphic: World FX rates https://tmsnrt.rs/2RBWI5E

Asian stock marketshttps://tmsnrt.rs/2zpUAr4

(Reporting by Anushka Trivedi in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

((Anushka.Trivedi@thomsonreuters.com; +918061823241;))