* Graphic: World FX rates tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh * Singapore Q3 GDP contracts less than expected * Tourism-reliant Thailand shares gain over 2% * Japan stock markets closed for holiday By Shruti Sonal Nov 23 (Reuters) - Singapore shares climbed over 1% to a more than eight-month high on Monday after GDP data showed the economy is set to return to growth next year, while broader emerging Asian markets were lifted by hopes for imminent coronavirus vaccines. The Singapore benchmark hit its highest since March 11 as the city-state's economy contracted less than initially estimated in the third quarter and is forecast to bounce back to growth next year. Singapore benefited from a gradual easing of its COVID-19 lockdown measures, though investors remain cautious about the outlook amid a surge in global infections and fresh restrictions to curb them. "Going forward, the real concern will be how external demand response is going into 2021", said Chang Wei Liang, macro strategist at Singapore-based DBS Bank. "The fear is that a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in U.S. and Europe will drag down the demand as Singapore is quite externally dependent. But for now, I think the sentiment is still on the more positive side with the expectation that a vaccine will be pushed out next year." Singapore Airlines and in-flight catering service provider SATS Ltd, however, fell over 1% each as a travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore was postponed for two weeks. Other regional markets inched higher on hopes of a vaccine rollout after a top official of the U.S. government's vaccine development effort said Sunday that the first vaccines could be given to U.S. healthcare workers and others recommended by mid-December. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.6%, pushing past a previous record high touched on Friday. Tourism-reliant Thailand shares were up over 2%, extending their gains for a fourth consecutive session. Thailand's trade surplus for October stood at $2.05 billion, higher than the $1.94 billion forecast in a Reuters poll, according to commerce ministry data. The baht was flat after the central bank on Friday unveiled new measures to balance capital flows and hedge against a rapid jump in the currency. Japanese stock markets were closed for a holiday, while the yen was trading 0.1% up. HIGHLIGHTS: ** Top gainers on the Thailand's SETI include Max Metal Corporation PCL, TWZ Corporation PCL and asmine International PCL ** Singapore's 10-year benchmark yield is down 2.2 basis points at 0.91% Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0404 GMT COUNTRY FX RIC FX FX YTD % INDEX STOCKS STOCKS DAILY DAILY % YTD % % Japan +0.10 +4.68 - 7.9% China <CNY=CFX -0.01 +6.10 0.86 11.69 S> India -0.04 -3.72 0.64 6.36 Indones +0.07 -1.84 0.94 -10.72 ia Malaysi +0.07 +0.05 0.10 0.41 a Philipp +0.08 +5.10 1.31 -7.06 ines S.Korea <KRW=KFT +0.17 +3.96 1.86 18.35 C> Singapo +0.09 +0.19 0.76 -12.06 re Taiwan +1.06 +5.57 1.02 15.49 Thailan +0.03 -1.22 1.72 -10.54 d (Reporting by Shruti Sonal in Bengaluru Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
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