EMERGING MARKETS-Malaysian shares gain on rate cut hopes; Asian currencies firm
* Graphic: World FX rates http://tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh
* Asian stocks https://tmsnrt.rs/3f2vwbA
* Philippine stocks set for fourth day of losses
* Malaysia's c.bank seen cutting key interest rate
* Asia FX strengthen as dollar slips
By Shriya Ramakrishnan
Jan 20 (Reuters) - Malaysian shares rose for the first time in five days on Wednesday as investors bet on further policy easing by its central bank to shore up a domestic economy struggling from fresh coronavirus restrictions.
Emerging Asian currencies firmed as U.S. Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen's push for a hefty fiscal relief package knocked the dollar index =USD from a one-month high and lifted appetite for riskier assets.
The Singapore dollar SGD= , South Korean won KRW=KFTC and Thai baht THB=TH advanced between 0.2% and 0.3% against the greenback.
Kuala Lumpur's benchmark stock index .KLSE was up 0.8%, and the ringgit MYR=MY held on to a tight range ahead of the central bank meeting later in the day.
Malaysian equities have underperformed their Asian peers this month, as sentiment took a hit after a state of emergency was declared to curb the coronavirus, a day after the imposition of a 14-day lockdown in the capital and five states.
A majority of economists polled by Reuters expect Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) to cut its overnight policy rate by 25 basis points to a historic low of 1.50%. risks of a rate cut by BNM at this meeting have risen versus a month ago due to more restrictions on mobility and building downside risks to growth in the near term," Sophia Ng, an analyst at MUFG wrote in a note.
Ng however said there was also a chance the central bank could view fiscal measures as a more effective tool to support the economy, especially after the government announced new aid measures on Monday. shares .JKSE were the top gainers among regional equity markets, boosted by strength in financial stocks.
Meanwhile, Vietnamese shares fought to stabilise in volatile trade. The benchmark VN-Index .VNI saw its biggest single-session fall in 20 years on Tuesday, with a sudden spike in sell orders causing a trading system freeze. shares .PSI also trailed, with the index down more than 1% and headed for a fourth straight day of losses.
The Philippines, which has been battling one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in Southeast Asia, is set to buy 20 million doses of Moderna 's MRNA.O COVID-19 vaccine. may be awaiting for further leads on the execution phase of vaccine distribution, in which the pace of business and economic recovery ultimately depends on," said Frances Samorano, a research analyst at RCBC Securities.
"Trading activity has been focused on non-index names, which have no impact on the market barometer."
** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields are down 1 basis points at 6.282%
** Top gainers on the Jakarta stock index .JKSE include Capitol Nusantara Indonesia Tbk PT CANI.JK up 34.21% at 204 rupiah, Indonesia Kendaraan Terminal Tbk PT IPCC.JK up 25% at 675 rupiah
** Top gainers on FTSE Bursa Malaysia Kl Index .KLSE include Public Bank Bhd PUBM.KL up 2.97% at 21.52 ringgit, Top Glove Corporation Bhd TPGC.KL up 1.63% at 6.23 ringgit
Asia stock indexes and
currencies at 0437 GMT
COUNTRY FX RIC
INDEX STOCKS STOCKS
DAILY % YTD %
DAILY YTD %
+0.14 -0.48 .N225
+0.17 +0.92 .SSEC
+0.07 -0.07 .NSEI
4.21 Indonesi IDR=
+0.14 +0.07 .JKSE
+0.02 -0.67 .KLSE
0.81 -0.76 Philippi PHP=
+0.07 -0.04 .PSI
-1.11 -0.29 nes
+0.32 -1.20 .KS11
7.50 Singapor SGD=
+0.23 -0.36 .STI
+1.71 +1.75 .TWII
7.71 Thailand THB=TH
+0.20 +0.00 .SETI
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