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EMERGING MARKETS-Asian FX rattled by Delta variant spread, baht at over 1-year low

2 min read
    * Asian currencies facing the brunt due to local outbreaks
    * Thai baht on 4-week losing streak
    * Philippine shares tumble 2.5%

    By Anushka Trivedi
    July 9 (Reuters) - The Thai baht slumped almost 1% on Friday
to lead losses among Asian currencies, as markets turned risk
averse due to the spread of highly contagious Delta variant of
coronavirus at home and abroad cast a shadow on global economic
    The baht dropped to 32.72 per dollar, a level it
last traded at during the COVID-19 outbreak in April last year,
while the South Korean won continued its decline for
a third day after strict curbs were extended in parts of the
     The Indonesian rupiah, the Malaysian ringgit
 and the Singapore dollar eased 0.1% to 0.2%.
    Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and South Korea already faced
pressure from recent devastating outbreaks and the slow pace of
vaccination, but the rapid rise in coronavirus cases in
developed economies has stoked worries of more lockdowns that
could hinder global trade.
     "Broad risk aversion was even more apparent in the foreign
exchange space with U.S. dollar on the rise...Regional (Asian)
currencies took the brunt because of worsening COVID outbreaks
here," Maybank analysts said in a note.
    "The trigger could be the state of emergency declared for
Tokyo on Thursday, underscoring the challenges of overcoming the
Delta variant." 
    The baht has been declining for four weeks and is the worst
performing currency in the region this year as its economy
hinges on tourism revival, which is in doubt due to the latest
travel curbs following record COVID-19 deaths in Thailand.

    Confidence in the baht has worsened since the Bank of
Thailand slashed its growth forecast for the economy last month,
predicting it would return to pre-pandemic levels only by 2023.
    Most Asian equities fell in line with the frail market
sentiment, with the Philippine stock index leading
declines, tumbling 2.5% to see its worst day since March 19.
    South Korean stocks shed 1.5%, on track to mark
their worst week since February. Taiwan and India shares
 shaved off 1.1% and 0.6%, respectively.
    Malaysian stocks rose 0.6%, looking to snap a
five-day losing streak and recoup some losses from the previous
session when they plunged almost 2% on renewed political
tensions in the country.
    ** Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha to consider
new COVID-19 restrictions in a meeting on Friday
    ** In the Philippines, top index losers are JG Summit
Holdings Inc down 4.1% and Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc
 down 3.8%
    ** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields were up
about 4.1 basis points at 6.572%

 Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0435 GMT                                               
 Japan                          -0.11      -6.07                        -1.75            0.66
 China                          +0.09      +0.67                        -0.69            0.81
 India                          +0.06      -2.14                        -0.51           11.92
 Indonesia                      -0.17      -3.47                         0.02            1.03
 Malaysia                       -0.13      -3.95                         0.60           -6.73
 Philippines                    +0.34      -4.06                        -2.48           -5.41
 S.Korea                        -0.35      -5.47                        -1.70           11.27
 Singapore                      -0.09      -2.41                         0.36            9.67
 Taiwan                         -0.08      +1.52                        -1.31           19.68
 Thailand                       -0.67      -8.32                         0.33            6.86

 (Reporting by Anushka Trivedi in Bengaluru; Additional
reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Sam Holmes) | Newsphere by AF themes.