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Rashmi Ashok

Long bets on Chinese yuan near three-year high on vaccine hopes, weak dollar - Reuters poll

Nov 26 2020

Investors raised bullish positions on most Asian currencies, a Reuters poll showed, as a slew of promising COVID-19 vaccine trial results boosted appetite for riskier emerging market assets and reduced the safe-haven appeal of the dollar.

POLL-Long bets on Chinese yuan near three-year high on vaccine hopes, weak dollar

Nov 26 2020

* Long positions on Chinese yuan highest since Jan. 25, 2018 * Long views on Malaysian ringgit at highest since Sept. 17 * Bullish bets on Singapore dollar highest since early 2018 By Rashmi Ashok Nov 26 Investors raised bullish positions on most Asian currencies, a Reuters poll showed, as a slew of promising COVID-19 vaccine trial results boosted appetite for riskier emerging market assets and reduced the safe-haven appeal of the dollar. Investors were the most bullish on China's yuan, the fortnightly poll of 15 respondents showed, with long positions on the currency rising to the highest level since Jan. 25, 2018. Data showing economic improvement, relatively low cases of the novel coronavirus and hopes for a better trade relationship with the United States under a Joe Biden presidency helped the yuan hit a 29-month high against the dollar last week. "While Biden is likely to maintain a bold stance against China and perhaps retain current tariffs for use as leverage in negotiations, markets are likely pricing in the end of tit-for-tat spats for now," said Daniel Dubrovsky, an analyst at Daily FX. COVID-19 vaccines being developed by U.S. drugmakers Moderna and Pfizer, and British company AstraZeneca have shown promising results in late-stage trials, raising prospects of a quicker return to normal and speedy economic recovery. Long positions on the Singapore dollar held at their highest since late January 2018, as the city-state's economy contracted less than estimated in the third quarter due to an easing of COVID-19 lockdown measures. Similarly, bullish bets on the Malaysian ringgit rose to their highest since mid-September, helped by a rosier growth outlook for 2021 by the central bank and a smaller-than-expected economic contraction in the third quarter. Capital inflows into Asia, given 2021 growth expectations, should help keep those currencies afloat as investors chase higher returns, while loose U.S. monetary policy will keep global borrowing costs depressed and credit markets lubricated, depressing the dollar, Dubrovsky added. Bullish views for the Indonesian rupiah eased slightly while those on the Philippine peso did not improve in tandem with the rest, after central banks in both nations surprised markets with rate cuts last week. Investors were the least bullish towards the Indian rupee , given the central bank's aggressive dollar purchases and resistance to currency appreciation, with weak economic data and high coronavirus case numbers further weighing on sentiment. Long positions on the Thai baht were scaled back as anti-government protests in the nation continued, with thousands of protesters calling on King Maha Vajiralongkorn to cede control of royal fortune earlier this week. While most risks that have weighed on the performance of Asian FX so far have now dimmed, the next major event would be how vaccine distribution plays out, said Sim Moh Siong, a FX strategist at Bank of Singapore. Impediments to widespread vaccine distribution are something that should be looked out for, he said, adding that: "It could upset the risk-on, weaker dollar backdrop that we're seeing right now." The Asian currency positioning poll is focused on what analysts and fund managers believe are the current market positions in nine Asian emerging market currencies: the Chinese yuan, South Korean won, Singapore dollar, Indonesian rupiah, Taiwan dollar, Indian rupee, Philippine peso, Malaysian ringgit and the Thai baht. The poll uses estimates of net long or short positions on a scale of minus 3 to plus 3. A score of plus 3 indicates the market is significantly long U.S. dollars. The figures include positions held through non-deliverable forwards (NDFs). The survey findings are provided below (positions in U.S. dollar versus each currency): DD/MM CNY KRW SGD IDR TWD INR MYR PHP THB 26/11 -1.43 -1.29 -1.01 -0.92 -1.08 -0.30 -0.75 -0.80 -0.66 12/11 -1.28 -1.52 -0.99 -1.01 -1.08 -0.26 -0.44 -0.67 -0.80 29/10 -0.86 -1.14 -0.49 0.09 -1.23 -0.07 -0.03 -0.09 -0.02 15/10 -1.07 -0.94 -0.72 0.35 -1.12 -0.44 -0.33 -0.15 0.10 01/10 -0.47 -0.53 -0.25 0.61 -0.68 -0.31 -0.31 -0.68 0.38 17/09 -1.25 -0.60 -0.61 0.39 -0.51 -0.54 -0.89 -1.07 -0.17 03/09 -1.41 -0.71 -0.99 -0.19 -0.40 -0.91 -0.96 -1.34 -0.15 20/08 -1.02 -0.71 -0.69 0.43 -0.31 -0.35 -0.62 -1.12 -0.21 06/08 -0.81 -0.44 -0.57 0.45 -0.54 -0.31 -0.29 -0.76 -0.2 23/07 -0.8 -0.19 -0.09 0.61 -0.34 -0.38 -0.22 -0.61 0.24 (Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

Australia shares ease as latest COVID-19 cluster dampens vaccine euphoria

Nov 18 2020

* Insurance firms drop as court rules for insurers in test case

Australia's NAB earnings slide, sees poorer asset quality, higher costs

Nov 04 2020

SYDNEY/BENGALURU National Australia Bank on Thursday posted a 36.6% fall in annual profit, hurt by higher loan loss provisions for the COVID-19 pandemic, customer and payroll remediation, and higher wages.

EMERGING MARKETS-Yuan anchors Asian FX as caution spikes ahead of U.S. election

Oct 30 2020

* Graphic: World FX rates http://tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh * Graphic: Foreign flows into Asian stocks https://tmsnrt.rs/3lKhL5I * Yuan rises nearly 0.5% on China's new 5-year plan * South Korean won top gainer for October, up 3% * Philippine stocks end with near 8% monthly gain * Malaysia cenbank meet, 2021 budget in focus next week * Indian and Indonesian forex markets shut due to local holidays By Rashmi Ashok Oct 30 Strong gains in the Chinese yuan supported most Asian currencies on Friday, shielding them from a broader gloomy mood weighing on regional equities ahead of the U.S. presidential election. Worries about the outcome of Tuesday's election have remained at the fore, given the stark difference between Democratic candidate Joe Biden and President Donald Trump's views on foreign policy and trade, particularly towards Asia. The yuan jumped 0.5% against the dollar after China's leaders endorsed a new five-year plan to drive sustained economic growth, which markets believe will require a stronger currency. That helped boost the closely tied Singapore dollar by 0.2%, while the Thai baht rose by a similar margin. While cases are surging elsewhere, the COVID-19 situation in Asia remains largely under control, with China's swift economic recovery driving the resilience of the yuan and other Asian currencies, said Sim Moh Siong, FX strategist at Bank of Singapore. "The second factor is the U.S. elections. If Biden wins, and polls are indicating he's in the lead, it could lead to a less aggressive trade policy, further anchoring the yuan," he added. "For Asia, overall, the risk environment is going to be cautious, but there's no panic." The region's equities were subdued after Wall Street's sell-off as cases continued to surge in the United States, while fears of more lockdowns across Europe, following France and Germany's moves this week, also dented the mood. For October, most Asian currencies were set to end higher, with the South Korean won logging its best monthly performance since June 2019, with a 3% gain. Most stock markets, however, were set to end the month with losses. The Thai index was on track for a 3.4% drop sparked by political ructions and protests. Philippines' equities, in contrast, breezed past peers with an 8% gain, as a the gradual reopening of the economy and upbeat COVID-19 case trends spurred investor confidence. In the week ahead, the focus will turn to Malaysia's central bank policy meeting on Tuesday, followed by the government's 2021 budget presentation on Friday. The latter is seen as a key test to gauge support the prime minister wields amid recent political tensions, with fears prevalent that the budget bill might not get through parliament given the slim coalition majority his government holds. The Indian currency market was shut on Friday for a local holiday, while in Indonesia, both equities and forex markets were closed. HIGHLIGHTS ** In the Philippines, top index gainers were Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc, up 5.82%, and JG Summit Holdings Inc , up 3.71%. ** Top losers on the Singapore index include UOL Group Ltd, down 3.72%, and Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust, down 3.33%. ** Singapore's 10-year benchmark yield is down 0.2 basis point at 0.831%​​ and the 5-year benchmark yield is up 0.2 basis point at 0.498%​​ Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0650 GMT COUNTRY FX RIC FX FX INDEX STOCK STOCK DAILY YTD % S S YTD % DAILY % % Japan +0.29 +4.12 -1.52 -2.87 China <CNY=CFX +0.33 +4.02 -1.61 5.57 S> Malaysi -0.10 -1.66 -1.23 -7.05 a Philipp -0.04 +4.66 1.19 -19.0 ines 8 S.Korea <KRW=KFT -0.33 +1.88 -2.56 3.16 C> Singapo +0.10 -1.55 -1.00 -24.7 re 2 Taiwan +1.05 +5.21 -0.92 4.58 Thailan +0.16 -4.10 -0.57 -24.3 d 7 (Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)

EMERGING MARKETS-Yuan anchors Asian FX as caution spikes ahead of U.S. election

Oct 30 2020

* Graphic: World FX rates http://tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh * Graphic: Foreign flows into Asian stocks https://tmsnrt.rs/3lKhL5I * Yuan rises nearly 0.5% on China's new 5-year plan * South Korean won top gainer for October, up 3% * Philippine stocks end with near 8% monthly gain * Malaysia cenbank meet, 2021 budget in focus next week * Indian and Indonesian forex markets shut due to local holidays By Rashmi Ashok Oct 30 Strong gains in the Chinese yuan supported most Asian currencies on Friday, shielding them from a broader gloomy mood weighing on regional equities ahead of the U.S. presidential election. Worries about the outcome of Tuesday's election have remained at the fore, given the stark difference between Democratic candidate Joe Biden and President Donald Trump's views on foreign policy and trade, particularly towards Asia. The yuan jumped 0.5% against the dollar after China's leaders endorsed a new five-year plan to drive sustained economic growth, which markets believe will require a stronger currency. That helped boost the closely tied Singapore dollar by 0.2%, while the Thai baht rose by a similar margin. While cases are surging elsewhere, the COVID-19 situation in Asia remains largely under control, with China's swift economic recovery driving the resilience of the yuan and other Asian currencies, said Sim Moh Siong, FX strategist at Bank of Singapore. "The second factor is the U.S. elections. If Biden wins, and polls are indicating he's in the lead, it could lead to a less aggressive trade policy, further anchoring the yuan," he added. "For Asia, overall, the risk environment is going to be cautious, but there's no panic." The region's equities were subdued after Wall Street's sell-off as cases continued to surge in the United States, while fears of more lockdowns across Europe, following France and Germany's moves this week, also dented the mood. For October, most Asian currencies were set to end higher, with the South Korean won logging its best monthly performance since June 2019, with a 3% gain. Most stock markets, however, were set to end the month with losses. The Thai index was on track for a 3.4% drop sparked by political ructions and protests. Philippines' equities, in contrast, breezed past peers with an 8% gain, as a the gradual reopening of the economy and upbeat COVID-19 case trends spurred investor confidence. In the week ahead, the focus will turn to Malaysia's central bank policy meeting on Tuesday, followed by the government's 2021 budget presentation on Friday. The latter is seen as a key test to gauge support the prime minister wields amid recent political tensions, with fears prevalent that the budget bill might not get through parliament given the slim coalition majority his government holds. The Indian currency market was shut on Friday for a local holiday, while in Indonesia, both equities and forex markets were closed. HIGHLIGHTS ** In the Philippines, top index gainers were Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc, up 5.82%, and JG Summit Holdings Inc , up 3.71%. ** Top losers on the Singapore index include UOL Group Ltd, down 3.72%, and Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust, down 3.33%. ** Singapore's 10-year benchmark yield is down 0.2 basis point at 0.831%​​ and the 5-year benchmark yield is up 0.2 basis point at 0.498%​​ Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0650 GMT COUNTRY FX RIC FX FX INDEX STOCK STOCK DAILY YTD % S S YTD % DAILY % % Japan +0.29 +4.12 -1.52 -2.87 China <CNY=CFX +0.33 +4.02 -1.61 5.57 S> Malaysi -0.10 -1.66 -1.23 -7.05 a Philipp -0.04 +4.66 1.19 -19.0 ines 8 S.Korea <KRW=KFT -0.33 +1.88 -2.56 3.16 C> Singapo +0.10 -1.55 -1.00 -24.7 re 2 Taiwan +1.05 +5.21 -0.92 4.58 Thailan +0.16 -4.10 -0.57 -24.3 d 7 (Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)

EMERGING MARKETS-Cautious Asian FX anchored by strong yuan ahead of U.S. election

Oct 30 2020

* Graphic: World FX rates http://tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh * Graphic: Foreign flows into Asian stocks https://tmsnrt.rs/3lKhL5I * China's recovery shielding Asian FX from virus woes -analyst * Yuan's 0.5% gain keeps most Asian FX afloat * Focus on Malaysia cenbank meet, 2021 budget next week * Indonesia, India shut on local holidays By Rashmi Ashok Oct 30 Strong gains in the Chinese yuan supported most Asian currencies on Friday, helping them escape a broader risk-off mood that sent regional equities lower as uncertainty ramped up ahead of the U.S. presidential election. Worries over the outcome of Tuesday's election has remained to the fore, given the stark difference between Democratic candidate Joe Biden and President Donald Trump's views on foreign policy and trade, particularly towards Asia. The Chinese yuan jumped 0.5% against the dollar, which helped boost the closely tied Singapore dollar by 0.2% and the South Korean won 0.4%. While cases are surging elsewhere, the COVID-19 situation in Asia remains largely under control, with China's swift economic recovery driving the resilience of the yuan and other Asian currencies, said Sim Moh Siong, FX strategist at Bank of Singapore. "The second factor is the U.S. elections. If Biden wins, and polls are indicating he's in the lead, it could lead to a less aggressive trade policy, further anchoring the yuan," he added. "For Asia, overall, the risk environment is going to be cautious, but there's no panic." Reuters earlier reported Biden would immediately consult with America's main allies before deciding on the future of U.S. tariffs on China, which markets received positively. Export-sensitive currencies in Asia, primarily the yuan, the won and the Taiwan dollar are set to clock firm gains in October, up nearly 1% to 3.6% so far for the month. Despite being shunned in recent weeks due to political ructions and massive protests, the Thai baht is also on track for a 1.6% monthly gain. Stock markets were subdued after Wall Street's sell-off, as cases continued to surge in the United States. Expectations of further lockdowns across Europe, following France and Germany's moves earlier this week, also dented the mood. Philippine stocks bucked the regional trend to add nearly 1%, after a sharp 2% decline the previous session. In the week ahead, Malaysia's central bank will meet on Tuesday to decide on monetary policy, followed by the government's 2021 budget presentation on Friday. The latter is seen as a key test to gauge the support the prime minister holds in wake of recent political tensions, with fears prevalent that the budget bill might not get through parliament given the slim coalition majority his government holds. Markets in Indonesia and India remained shut for local holidays. HIGHLIGHTS ** In the Philippines, top index gainers are Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc up 5.7% and JG Summit Holdings Inc up 3.07% ** Top losers on FTSE Bursa Malaysia Kl Index include Axiata Group Bhd down 2.96% and Hong Leong Financial Group Bhd down 2.31% ** Malaysia's 10-year benchmark yield was down 0.2 basis points at 2.63%​​ while the 3-year benchmark yield was up 0.5 basis points at 1.76%​​ Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0454 GMT COUNTRY FX RIC FX FX INDEX STOCK STOCK DAILY YTD % S S YTD % DAILY % % Japan +0.26 +4.09 -0.75 -2.11 China <CNY=CFX +0.48 +4.18 -0.10 7.19 S> Malaysi +0.00 -1.56 -0.82 -6.66 a Philipp -0.01 +4.68 1.08 -19.1 ines 7 S.Korea <KRW=KFT +0.34 +2.55 -1.21 4.59 C> Singapo +0.18 -1.47 -0.23 -24.1 re 4 Taiwan +0.04 +4.17 -0.33 5.20 Thailan +0.13 -4.13 -0.19 -24.0 d 8 (Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

EMERGING MARKETS-Asian shares prune losses after China stocks rebound, yuan lifts FX

Oct 29 2020

* Graphic: World FX rates http://tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh * Graphic: Foreign flows into Asian stocks https://tmsnrt.rs/3lKhL5I * Yuan jumps 0.4%, Chinese shares shed losses to stand 0.5% higher * Singapore dollar adds 0.2%, South Korean won sheds losses * Philippine shares see exaggerated drop after last week's rally * Indonesian and Malaysian markets shut due to local holidays By Rashmi Ashok Oct 29 Asian equities were shielded from deeper losses on Thursday after Chinese stocks and the yuan rebounded by midday, acting as a buffer to an overnight sell-off on Wall Street due to a surge in COVID-19 cases in Europe and the United States. France and Germany went into lockdowns, prompting worries that more European nations may be forced to follow suit which could threaten the nascent economic recovery. A surge in U.S. infections also sapped risk sentiment. Philippine stocks fell the most, posting a 2% drop in their worst session since Aug. 3, as investors liberally sold off shares after last week's 10% rally. Other markets, however, recovered from deeper losses after China's benchmark stock index reversed course to add 0.5% by midday as leading companies posted robust third-quarter earnings. Reuters' report that Joe Biden will "consult allies" on future China tariffs if elected also seems to be supporting Asian markets and has put a floor under the negative sentiment for now, Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA wrote. In tandem with the Chinese yuan's 0.4% jump, the closely-tied Singapore dollar added 0.2% and the South Korean won rebounded from losses of as much as 0.5% to hold steady by midday. Analysts say Asian assets have largely been shielded from the sell-off elsewhere as the region's economic engine, China, has shown strong signs of a recovery through recent data while coronavirus cases have remained under control. The Taiwan dollar jumped 1% and the Philippine peso traded slightly higher. The Thai baht also pulled back from losses to stand flat. Worries about the outcome of the U.S. election next week remained a big pressure point, given the stark difference between Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's trade policies towards Asia from those of President Donald Trump. "A Biden win would likely bode well for Asia, given a less aggressive trade stance/potential for stronger fiscal stimulus. Trade orientated FX such as the yuan, won, Singapore dollar and Taiwan dollar will likely be the main beneficiaries," analysts at TD Securities wrote earlier this week. They also noted that a weaker U.S. dollar would also be likely if Biden won, while a Trump win could spur a stronger dollar and further hinder appreciation in Asian currencies. Markets in Indonesia and Malaysia were shut on account of local holidays. HIGHLIGHTS ** Top losers on the Singapore STI include Mapletree Commercial Trust, down 3.24%, and Capitaland Mall Trust, down 2.2%. ** Top losers on Thailand's SETI include TWZ Corporation PCL, down 16.67%, and Bangkok Post PCL , down 15.44%. ** Singapore's 10-year benchmark yield was down 0.9 basis point at 0.822%,​​ while the 5-year benchmark yield was up 2.6 basis points at 0.49%​​ Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0706 GMT COUNTRY FX RIC FX FX INDEX STOCK STOCK DAILY YTD % S S YTD % DAILY % % Japan -0.05 +4.09 -0.37 -1.37 China <CNY=CFX +0.31 +3.81 0.36 7.57 S> India -0.23 -3.60 0.02 -3.59 Philipp +0.16 +4.72 -2.01 -20.0 ines 4 S.Korea <KRW=KFT -0.07 +2.21 -0.79 5.87 C> Singapo +0.14 -1.37 -0.76 -23.5 re 3 Taiwan +1.03 +5.23 -1.02 5.55 Thailan -0.06 -4.17 -0.26 -23.7 d 4 (Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)

EMERGING MARKETS-Asian shares prune losses after China stocks rebound, yuan lifts FX

Oct 29 2020

* Graphic: World FX rates http://tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh * Graphic: Foreign flows into Asian stocks https://tmsnrt.rs/3lKhL5I * Yuan jumps 0.4%, Chinese shares shed losses to stand 0.5% higher * Singapore dollar adds 0.2%, South Korean won sheds losses * Philippine shares see exaggerated drop after last week's rally * Indonesian and Malaysian markets shut due to local holidays By Rashmi Ashok Oct 29 Asian equities were shielded from deeper losses on Thursday after Chinese stocks and the yuan rebounded by midday, acting as a buffer to an overnight sell-off on Wall Street due to a surge in COVID-19 cases in Europe and the United States. France and Germany went into lockdowns, prompting worries that more European nations may be forced to follow suit which could threaten the nascent economic recovery. A surge in U.S. infections also sapped risk sentiment. Philippine stocks fell the most, posting a 2% drop in their worst session since Aug. 3, as investors liberally sold off shares after last week's 10% rally. Other markets, however, recovered from deeper losses after China's benchmark stock index reversed course to add 0.5% by midday as leading companies posted robust third-quarter earnings. Reuters' report that Joe Biden will "consult allies" on future China tariffs if elected also seems to be supporting Asian markets and has put a floor under the negative sentiment for now, Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA wrote. In tandem with the Chinese yuan's 0.4% jump, the closely-tied Singapore dollar added 0.2% and the South Korean won rebounded from losses of as much as 0.5% to hold steady by midday. Analysts say Asian assets have largely been shielded from the sell-off elsewhere as the region's economic engine, China, has shown strong signs of a recovery through recent data while coronavirus cases have remained under control. The Taiwan dollar jumped 1% and the Philippine peso traded slightly higher. The Thai baht also pulled back from losses to stand flat. Worries about the outcome of the U.S. election next week remained a big pressure point, given the stark difference between Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's trade policies towards Asia from those of President Donald Trump. "A Biden win would likely bode well for Asia, given a less aggressive trade stance/potential for stronger fiscal stimulus. Trade orientated FX such as the yuan, won, Singapore dollar and Taiwan dollar will likely be the main beneficiaries," analysts at TD Securities wrote earlier this week. They also noted that a weaker U.S. dollar would also be likely if Biden won, while a Trump win could spur a stronger dollar and further hinder appreciation in Asian currencies. Markets in Indonesia and Malaysia were shut on account of local holidays. HIGHLIGHTS ** Top losers on the Singapore STI include Mapletree Commercial Trust, down 3.24%, and Capitaland Mall Trust, down 2.2%. ** Top losers on Thailand's SETI include TWZ Corporation PCL, down 16.67%, and Bangkok Post PCL , down 15.44%. ** Singapore's 10-year benchmark yield was down 0.9 basis point at 0.822%,​​ while the 5-year benchmark yield was up 2.6 basis points at 0.49%​​ Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0706 GMT COUNTRY FX RIC FX FX INDEX STOCK STOCK DAILY YTD % S S YTD % DAILY % % Japan -0.05 +4.09 -0.37 -1.37 China <CNY=CFX +0.31 +3.81 0.36 7.57 S> India -0.23 -3.60 0.02 -3.59 Philipp +0.16 +4.72 -2.01 -20.0 ines 4 S.Korea <KRW=KFT -0.07 +2.21 -0.79 5.87 C> Singapo +0.14 -1.37 -0.76 -23.5 re 3 Taiwan +1.03 +5.23 -1.02 5.55 Thailan -0.06 -4.17 -0.26 -23.7 d 4 (Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)

EMERGING MARKETS-Asian stocks slide on coronavirus surge, yuan rise supports FX

Oct 29 2020

* Graphic: World FX rates http://tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh * Graphic: Foreign flows into Asian stocks https://tmsnrt.rs/3lKhL5I * Philippine stocks slide nearly 2%, lead losses * Yuan's 0.3% bounce keeps Asian FX afloat * Indonesian and Malaysian markets shut on local holidays By Rashmi Ashok Oct 29 Asian equities slid on Thursday after surging coronavirus cases in the United States and Europe sparked a sell-off on Wall Street overnight, while a rebound in the Chinese yuan helped shield regional currencies from the risk-off mood. France and Germany went into lockdowns, which prompted worries that more European nations may be forced to follow suit in a move that could threaten a nascent economic recovery. Philippine's benchmark stock index slid most in the region, down 2% and was on track for its biggest drop since Aug. 19, after last week's rise of nearly 10%. The Chinese yuan rose 0.3 %, recovering losses made in the previous session. It fell on Wednesday after some banks tweaked a methodology for fixing the yuan's daily midpoint, which was seen by some as a sign that Beijing is willing to allow some weakness in its currency. The yuan's strength helped put a floor under most Asian currencies despite an appreciating U.S. dollar. The Singapore dollar, closely tied to the Chinese currency's moves due to close trade ties, rose 0.2% higher. "This has helped cap losses in other Asia-ex Japan FX as well," analysts at Maybank wrote in a note, referring to the yuan's strength. The Taiwan dollar jumped 1% while the Philippine peso also traded a touch firmer. The South Korean won also pulled back from deeper losses to stand only marginally weaker. Worries about the outcome of the U.S. election next week also overshadowed trade, given the stark difference between Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's trade policies towards Asia from those of President Donald Trump. "A Biden win would likely bode well for Asia, given a less aggressive trade stance/potential for stronger fiscal stimulus. Trade orientated FX such as the yuan, won, Singapore dollar and Taiwan dollar will likely be the main beneficiaries," analysts at TD Securities wrote earlier this week. They also noted that a weaker U.S. dollar would also be likely if Biden won, while a Trump win could spur a stronger dollar and further hinder appreciation in Asian currencies. Markets in Indonesia and Malaysia were shut on account of local holidays. HIGHLIGHTS ** In the Philippines, top index losers are LT Group Inc down 4.64% and Ayala Land Inc down 4.43% ** Top losers on the Singapore STI include Mapletree Commercial Trust down 3.24% and Capitaland Mall Trust down 2.2% ** Singapore's 10-year benchmark yield was up 0.1 basis points at 0.833%​​ and the 5-year benchmark yield was up 3.2 basis points at 0.496%​​ Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0449 GMT COUNTRY FX RIC FX FX INDEX STOCK STOCK DAILY YTD % S S YTD % DAILY % % Japan -0.12 +4.01 -0.36 -1.36 China <CNY=CFX +0.28 +3.77 0.08 7.26 S> India -0.20 -3.57 -0.30 -3.90 Philipp +0.08 +4.65 -1.73 -19.8 ines 0 S.Korea <KRW=KFT -0.17 +2.11 -1.35 5.27 C> Singapo +0.17 -1.34 -0.80 -23.5 re 6 Taiwan +1.06 +5.25 -1.02 5.55 Thailan -0.13 -4.23 -0.43 -23.8 d 7 (Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

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