* Graphic: Asia current accounts tmsnrt.rs/3kNEAn5 * Thai central bank announces measures to contain the baht's rise * Indonesia, Philippine central banks cut rates on Thursday * Rupiah dips after rate cut By Nikhil Nainan Nov 20 (Reuters) - Philippine shares hit a nine-month high on Friday after a surprise interest rate cut while the Thai baht gained, defying central bank measures to nip a recent rally that is seen threatening the southeast Asian nation's economic recovery. Equity markets across Asia were broadly higher with Singapore up 0.8% as investors look to the region's relative success in controlling the pandemic to fuel its economic recovery. That success and recent vaccine news from Pfizer and Moderna have supported stocks in Asia's emerging markets, with most set to post weekly gains of over 2%. The Thai baht edged 0.3% higher, even as the central bank sought to rein in the currency, which has strengthened nearly 3% so far this month and poses a concern for the tourism and trade reliant economy. Separately, the Bank of Thailand announced new rules that would let Thais freely hold and transfer foreign currency deposits and to directly invest more in overseas securities. On Thursday, the Philippine central bank surprised markets with a 25 basis points interest rate cut to a new low of 2.0% as the country's economy struggles with the pressure of coronavirus. "Loose monetary policy could be good for stock valuations and could drive a further rally for local bond yields," said Jennifer Lomboy, a fixed income fund manager at First Metro Asset in Manila. Stocks rose 1.8% to a late-February high, while the peso advanced 0.1%. Another surprise cut on Thursday came from Bank Indonesia, who also cut rates by 25 basis points to 3.75%, dimming the appeal of its high-yielding local bond market. The central bank governor said the rupiah, which dipped 0.2% on Friday, is still undervalued. The currency has been one of the outperformers in Asia's emerging market space, climbing over 3% this month. "We expect a possible rate cut in the near-term for as long as the rupiah remains on its current appreciation bias," said Nicholas Mapa, a senior economist at ING. The improving appetite for risk this month on vaccine news and Joe Biden winning the U.S. presidential election has boosted sentiment across asset classes in the region, but with COVID-19 cases rising and restrictions following suit, hopes for a quick global recovery is fading. OCBC Bank analysts said in a note that they expect "the downward drift to resume after a period of consolidation." Overnight, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin called for an end to coronavirus pandemic relief for struggling businesses, and DBS expects more short-covering into the weekend as appetite for emerging Asian currencies dwindle. HIGHLIGHTS: ** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields up 3 basis points to 6.208% ** Top index gainers in the Philippines are San Miguel Corp , GT Capital Holdings Inc and BDO Unibank Inc ** COMMENT-Mnuchin's move is risk-negative, but no reason to buy USD Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0405 GMT COUNTRY FX RIC FX FX INDEX STOCKS STOCKS DAILY % YTD % DAILY % YTD % Japan -0.10 +4.61 -0.65 7.65 China +0.09 +5.87 0.10 10.37 India +0.00 -3.88 0.57 5.56 Indonesia -0.21 -2.05 -0.05 -11.24 Malaysia +0.24 +0.02 0.50 0.17 Philippines +0.12 +4.95 1.75 -8.89 S.Korea +0.18 +3.84 -0.13 15.77 Singapore +0.09 +0.08 0.79 -13.15 Taiwan +1.04 +5.56 0.01 14.39 Thailand +0.30 -1.32 0.46 -12.92 (Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam Holmes)
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