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International

Shashwat Awasthi

EMERGING MARKETS-Singapore, Thai stocks cheer less-than-feared Q4 economic contraction

Feb 15 2021

* Graphic: World FX rates http://tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh * Graphic: Foreign flows into Asian stocks https://tmsnrt.rs/3lKhL5I * S. Korea stocks hit highest since Jan. 27 * China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, U.S. markets shut By Shashwat Awasthi Feb 15 Thailand stocks were on track for their best day in more than a month on Monday and Singapore shares jumped after the Southeast Asian economies contracted less than expected in the final quarter of 2020. Across Asia, share markets began a data-heavy week on a firm footing amid optimism the rollout of coronavirus vaccines globally will speed up economic recovery. Thailand's SETI index jumped 1.3%, the most since Jan. 8. The baht traded flat as the country trimmed its growth outlook for 2021. The tourism-reliant nation was hit hard last year as the pandemic led to international travel restrictions and a COVID-19 outbreak in December has dealt a further blow to prospects for a speedy recovery. Thailand's fourth-quarter GDP data could indicate the "worst is over", but Monday's jump in stocks is also partly down to steep, single-stock moves, said Poon Panichpibool, a market strategist at Krung Thai Bank. "I think the market just follows hype on some stocks like PTT Oil and Retail Business... or Delta Electronics which benefits from up-cycle in semiconductor/IC sectors," Panichpibool said. PTT Oil and Retail Business, which soared almost 50% in its market debut last week, was up almost 20%. Shares of Delta surged 19%. Despite a lower 2021 growth forecast, Panichpibool said he does not expect the Bank of Thailand to cut record low interest rates further in the near term. Stocks in Singapore jumped as much as 0.7% and the dollar firmed after the city-state too reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter GDP. Analysts were also looking ahead to Singapore's 2021 budget, due on Tuesday, for guidance on fiscal policy. "Domestic policy concerns pertaining to an uneven and protracted recovery trajectory will likely feature prominently in the budget announcement tomorrow," said Selena Ling, head of research and strategy at OCBC Bank. South Korea's KOSPI scaled a near three-week high and the won gained for the fourth straight day after the country's exports during the first 10 days of February surged 69.1% from a year earlier. Markets in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan were closed for the Lunar New Year holiday. U.S. stock markets will be closed on Monday for the Presidents Day holiday. HIGHLIGHTS: ** Thailand's 10-year government bond yields are up 7 basis points at 1.38% ** Top gainers on Thailand's SETI include Max Metal Corporation up 100%, Muramoto Electron Thailand up 29.66% and Far East Fame Line DDB up 28.11% ** In the Philippines, top index losers are Alliance Global Group down 3.67%, Ayala Corp down 2.43% and International Container Terminal Services down 2.24% Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0722 GMT COUNTRY FX RIC FX DAILY % FX YTD % INDEX STOCKS DAILY % STOCKS YTD % Japan -0.16 -1.77 1.91 9.62 China 0.00 +1.09 0.00 5.24 India +0.20 +0.63 0.95 9.48 Indonesia +0.43 +0.93 0.73 4.83 Malaysia +0.14 -0.37 0.84 -0.89 Philippines +0.27 +0.21 -0.45 -2.53 S.Korea +0.51 -1.38 1.50 9.52 Singapore +0.09 -0.19 0.27 3.15 Taiwan 0.00 +0.33 0.00 7.26 Thailand -0.03 +0.30 1.34 5.46 (Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

EMERGING MARKETS-Singapore, Thai stocks rise as Q4 economic hit less than feared

Feb 14 2021

* Graphic: World FX rates http://tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh * Graphic: Foreign flows into Asian stocks https://tmsnrt.rs/3lKhL5I * S. Korea stocks hit highest since Jan. 27 * China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, U.S. markets shut By Shashwat Awasthi Feb 15 Singapore and Thai share markets began a data-heavy week on a firm footing on Monday after the two Southeast Asian economies contracted less than expected in the final quarter of 2020. South Korean shares jumped 1.5% and Malaysian shares touched a near one-month high as Asian stocks hit record highs on optimism the rollout of coronavirus vaccines around the world will speed up economic recovery. Singapore's economy is expected to recover gradually in 2021, the government said, after better-than-expected fourth-quarter gross domestic product data. Though the city-state marked its worst recession on record last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FTSE Strait Times Index jumped as much as 0.7% and was on course for its best day in a week, while the Singapore dollar firmed. Analysts were also looking ahead to Singapore's 2021 budget, due on Tuesday, for guidance on fiscal policy. "We expect next year to be a somewhat normal year for fiscal policy but that shouldn't be construed as reverting to a budget surplus," ING analyst Prakash Sakpal said. "Although accelerating recovery and GDP growth this year should enable the government to scale back some of the measures, we anticipate a broad stance of supporting jobs and business to prevail." Thai stocks rose 0.6% on the back of December-quarter GDP data, but the baht traded flat as Southeast Asia's second-largest economy trimmed its growth outlook for 2021. The tourism-reliant nation was hit hard last year as the pandemic led to widespread international travel restrictions and a COVID-19 outbreak in December has dealt a further blow to prospects for a speedy recovery. "We expect more of the same this year as the mainstay for growth, i.e. tourist arrivals, will unlikely return until the vaccination drive domestically and globally has gathered momentum," Mizuho analysts wrote. "In addition, the uneasy political situation will keep domestic and foreign investments on the sidelines depriving the economy of much needed support." Elsewhere in the region, South Korea's KOSPI scaled a near three-week high and the won gained for the fourth straight session. Data showed the country's exports during the first 10 days of February surged 69.1% from a year earlier. A raft of economic events expected this week, including Singapore's budget and January trade data, Indonesia's central bank policy decision, and minutes of the latest U.S. Federal Reserve meeting, could drive steeper moves across the region. Markets in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan were closed for the Lunar New Year holiday. U.S. stock markets will be closed on Monday for the Presidents Day holiday. HIGHLIGHTS: ** Thailand's 10-year government bond yields are up 6 basis points at 1.37% ** Top gainers on the Jakarta stock index include MNC Land Tbk up 33.33%, Kedaung Indah Can Tbk up 25.13% and Indomobil Sukses Internasional Tbk up ​ 18.83% ** Top gainers on FTSE Bursa Malaysia Kl Index include MISC up 3.35%, Telekom Malaysia up 2.12% and RHB Bank up 2.07% Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0352 GMT COUNTRY FX RIC FX FX INDE STOCK STOCK DAILY YTD % X S S YTD % DAILY % % Japan -0.09 -1.69 <.N2 1.21 8.87 25> China <CNY=CFX 0.00 +1.09 <.SS 0.00 5.24 S> EC> India 0.00 +0.43 <.NS 0.71 9.22 EI> Indones +0.43 +0.93 <.JK 0.79 4.89 ia SE> Malaysi +0.16 -0.35 <.KL 0.58 -1.13 a SE> Philipp +0.24 +0.18 <.PS 0.23 -1.86 ines I> S.Korea <KRW=KFT +0.40 -1.49 <.KS 1.48 9.50 C> 11> Singapo +0.17 -0.11 <.ST 0.35 3.23 re I> Taiwan 0.00 +0.33 <.TW 0.00 7.26 II> Thailan +0.10 +0.44 <.SE 0.58 4.68 d TI> (Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

Australia shares flat as markets eye stimulus, earnings

Jan 12 2021

Jan 13 Australian shares marked time on Wednesday as investors awaited details of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's stimulus package later this week and looked ahead to the corporate earnings season.

Australia shares gain as markets bank on U.S. stimulus hopes

Jan 11 2021

Jan 12 Australian shares advanced on Tuesday as investors clung to hopes of imminent fiscal stimulus from the United States, even as rising global coronavirus cases kept risk sentiment in check.

Australia shares slip as gold eases on U.S. stimulus hopes

Jan 10 2021

Jan 11 Australian shares edged lower on Monday as a slump in shares of gold miners offset upbeat sentiment around hopes of more fiscal stimulus from the United States and buoyant oil prices.

EMERGING MARKETS-Indian stocks hit record, Philippines falters after contrasting growth views

Dec 04 2020

* Graphic: World FX rates http://tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh * Graphic: Foreign flows into Asian stocks https://tmsnrt.rs/3lKhL5I * Taiwan dollar, S.Korean won jump 1% * Thai shares at highest since June 8 By Shashwat Awasthi Dec 4 Indian shares hit a record high on Friday after the country's central bank upgraded its economic growth forecast and said it would retain an accommodative policy stance at least for the current financial year. In contrast, stocks in the Philippines snapped a three-day winning streak, hit by a forecast of a deeper economic contraction this year and news that U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc had halved its COVID-19 vaccine production target for 2020. Trading across other emerging Asian stock markets remained mixed as sentiment around vaccines was partly offset by hopes that a U.S. stimulus plan would be pushed through Congress. Indian stocks, which initially rose 0.6%, inched up further after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) projected positive growth in the second half of 2021, while leaving interest rates unchanged. "Indian equity markets have reacted positively to both an upgrade of growth projection and availability of surplus liquidity conditions," said Sameer Narang, chief economist at Bank of Baroda. Narang added foreign portfolio investment inflows were also helping gains, and Friday's growth view upgrade implied the inflows may continue to drive Indian equity markets. The rupee firmed 0.2% after two days of losses. Shares in Manila dropped 0.8% and the peso eased after officials on Thursday forecast a 8.5%-9.5% contraction in the economy, compared with a previous forecast of a 5.5% decline. Raul Ruiz, head of research at RCBC Securities, said vaccine news was heavily affecting sentiment, and that a 15% rally in stocks since October was giving way to profit-taking. "News that the distribution of Pfizer's vaccine would be constrained by supply chain issues probably has more bearing on the market," Ruiz added. "Considering that uncertainties with regard to COVID-19 have yet to completely go away, there is a reluctance to letting profits run." Taiwan's dollar and South Korea's won outperformed regional peers that failed to make significant headway despite the U.S. dollar's woes, while shares in both countries soared more than 1%. Thai stocks, which gained in the previous session on the promise of additional stimulus, climbed another 1% to a near six-month high. Thailand's central bank said on Thursday it had adjusted rules on financial instruments qualified as banking capital to ease lending to businesses and households, while data on Friday showed deflation eased last month. HIGHLIGHTS: ** Indonesian 3-year benchmark yields are down 3.6 basis points at 4.796% ** In the Philippines, top index losers are SM Prime down 3.59%, Universal Robina down 3.51% and JG Summit down 3.17% ** Top gainers on Thailand's SETI include Union Plastic up 12.21%, Raimon Land up 10% and Triple I Logistics up​ 9.65% Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0634 GMT COUNTRY FX RIC FX FX YTD INDE STOCK STOC DAILY % X S KS % DAILY YTD % % Japan -0.03 +4.57 <.N2 -0.22 13.0 25> 8 China <CNY=CFX +0.13 +6.58 <.SS -0.03 12.8 S> EC> 2 India +0.18 -3.19 <.NS 0.65 8.64 EI> Indones +0.07 -1.49 <.JK -0.34 -7.8 ia SE> 8 Malaysi +0.34 +0.74 <.KL -0.38 2.10 a SE> Philipp -0.09 +5.47 <.PS -0.83 -8.7 ines I> 1 S.Korea <KRW=KFT +1.38 +6.87 <.KS 1.31 24.2 C> 11> 9 Singapo +0.20 +0.99 <.ST 0.61 -11. re I> 90 Taiwan +1.48 +6.57 <.TW 1.11 17.8 II> 0 Thailan +0.10 -0.80 <.SE 1.03 -8.0 d TI> 2 (Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

EMERGING MARKETS-Philippine stocks fall as vaccine, economic recovery hopes ebb

Dec 04 2020

* Graphic: World FX rates http://tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh * Graphic: Foreign flows into Asian stocks https://tmsnrt.rs/3lKhL5I * Taiwanese dollar, S.Korean won climb 1% * RBI holds rates as expected By Shashwat Awasthi Dec 4 Philippine shares snapped a three-day winning run on Friday, hit by a forecast of a deeper economic contraction in the country this year and news that U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc had halved its COVID-19 vaccine production target for 2020. Trading across other emerging Asian stock markets remained mixed as sentiment around downbeat vaccine headlines was partly offset by hopes that a U.S. coronavirus aid plan would be pushed through Congress. Stocks in Indonesia and Malaysia fell 0.4%, while South Korea's KOSPI climbed 1.6% to a record as shares of chipmakers continued to strengthen. Manila shares dropped 0.7% and the peso eased after officials on Thursday forecast a 8.5%-9.5% contraction in the economy, compared with a previous forecast of a 5.5% decline. The Philippine economy, one of Asia's fastest-growing before the pandemic, is still expected to rebound strongly over the next two years and recent upbeat manufacturing and jobs data has supported the recovery view. Raul Ruiz, head of research at RCBC Securities, said vaccine headlines were heavily affecting sentiment as investors had turned their attention to the speed and magnitude of recovery in 2021. "In this regard, news that the distribution of Pfizer's vaccine would be constrained by supply chain issues probably has more bearing on the market," Ruiz said, also attributing the fall to profit-taking after a 15% rally in stocks since October. Indian shares advanced, largely unaffected after the Reserve Bank of India, as widely expected, left its repo rate unchanged at the end of a three-day policy meeting on Friday. "The evolving growth-inflation mix suggest that the (Indian) central bank monetary policy committee would prefer to settle into a long pause, with a bias to anchor rates through strong dovish guidance," strategists at Singapore bank DBS said. Among currencies, the Taiwanese dollar and the South Korean won each jumped more than 1%, while others failed to make significant headway despite the U.S. dollar's woes. HIGHLIGHTS: ** Indonesian 3-year benchmark yields are down 3.6 basis points at 4.796% ** In the Philippines, top index losers are SM Prime Holdings, down 2.82%, Aboitiz Equity Ventures , off 2.19% and SM Investments, down 2.01% ** Top losers on the Jakarta stock index include NFC Indonesia, down 6.67%, Protech Mitra Perkasa , off 6.63% and Kedaung Indah Can, down 6.47% Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0423 GMT COUNTRY FX RIC FX FX YTD INDE STOCK STOC DAILY % X S KS % DAILY YTD % % Japan -0.04 +4.56 <.N2 -0.38 12.9 25> 0 China <CNY=CFX +0.05 +6.49 <.SS -0.35 12.4 S> EC> 6 India +0.00 -3.36 <.NS 0.51 8.48 EI> Indones +0.00 -1.56 <.JK -0.35 -7.8 ia SE> 9 Malaysi +0.31 +0.70 <.KL -0.36 2.11 a SE> Philipp -0.10 +5.45 <.PS -0.61 -8.5 ines I> 1 S.Korea <KRW=KFT +1.04 +6.51 <.KS 1.26 24.2 C> 11> 3 Singapo +0.06 +0.86 <.ST 0.33 -12. re I> 14 Taiwan +1.28 +6.36 <.TW 0.84 17.4 II> 8 Thailan +0.10 -0.80 <.SE 0.56 -8.4 d TI> 5 (Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

EMERGING MARKETS-Philippine stocks fall as vaccine, economic recovery hopes ebb

Dec 04 2020

* Graphic: World FX rates http://tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh * Graphic: Foreign flows into Asian stocks https://tmsnrt.rs/3lKhL5I * Taiwanese dollar, S.Korean won climb 1% * RBI holds rates as expected By Shashwat Awasthi Dec 4 Philippine shares snapped a three-day winning run on Friday, hit by a forecast of a deeper economic contraction in the country this year and news that U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc had halved its COVID-19 vaccine production target for 2020. Trading across other emerging Asian stock markets remained mixed as sentiment around downbeat vaccine headlines was partly offset by hopes that a U.S. coronavirus aid plan would be pushed through Congress. Stocks in Indonesia and Malaysia fell 0.4%, while South Korea's KOSPI climbed 1.6% to a record as shares of chipmakers continued to strengthen. Manila shares dropped 0.7% and the peso eased after officials on Thursday forecast a 8.5%-9.5% contraction in the economy, compared with a previous forecast of a 5.5% decline. The Philippine economy, one of Asia's fastest-growing before the pandemic, is still expected to rebound strongly over the next two years and recent upbeat manufacturing and jobs data has supported the recovery view. Raul Ruiz, head of research at RCBC Securities, said vaccine headlines were heavily affecting sentiment as investors had turned their attention to the speed and magnitude of recovery in 2021. "In this regard, news that the distribution of Pfizer's vaccine would be constrained by supply chain issues probably has more bearing on the market," Ruiz said, also attributing the fall to profit-taking after a 15% rally in stocks since October. Indian shares advanced, largely unaffected after the Reserve Bank of India, as widely expected, left its repo rate unchanged at the end of a three-day policy meeting on Friday. "The evolving growth-inflation mix suggest that the (Indian) central bank monetary policy committee would prefer to settle into a long pause, with a bias to anchor rates through strong dovish guidance," strategists at Singapore bank DBS said. Among currencies, the Taiwanese dollar and the South Korean won each jumped more than 1%, while others failed to make significant headway despite the U.S. dollar's woes. HIGHLIGHTS: ** Indonesian 3-year benchmark yields are down 3.6 basis points at 4.796% ** In the Philippines, top index losers are SM Prime Holdings, down 2.82%, Aboitiz Equity Ventures , off 2.19% and SM Investments, down 2.01% ** Top losers on the Jakarta stock index include NFC Indonesia, down 6.67%, Protech Mitra Perkasa , off 6.63% and Kedaung Indah Can, down 6.47% Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0423 GMT COUNTRY FX RIC FX FX YTD INDE STOCK STOC DAILY % X S KS % DAILY YTD % % Japan -0.04 +4.56 <.N2 -0.38 12.9 25> 0 China <CNY=CFX +0.05 +6.49 <.SS -0.35 12.4 S> EC> 6 India +0.00 -3.36 <.NS 0.51 8.48 EI> Indones +0.00 -1.56 <.JK -0.35 -7.8 ia SE> 9 Malaysi +0.31 +0.70 <.KL -0.36 2.11 a SE> Philipp -0.10 +5.45 <.PS -0.61 -8.5 ines I> 1 S.Korea <KRW=KFT +1.04 +6.51 <.KS 1.26 24.2 C> 11> 3 Singapo +0.06 +0.86 <.ST 0.33 -12. re I> 14 Taiwan +1.28 +6.36 <.TW 0.84 17.4 II> 8 Thailan +0.10 -0.80 <.SE 0.56 -8.4 d TI> 5 (Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

EMERGING MARKETS-Philippine stocks lead gains as jobs report signals recovery

Dec 03 2020

* Graphic: World FX rates http://tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh * Graphic: Foreign flows into Asian stocks https://tmsnrt.rs/3lKhL5I * Rupiah sees worst day since Nov. 19 * Malaysia stocks firm 1% By Shashwat Awasthi Dec 3 The Philippines led gains among emerging Asian stock markets on Thursday after an upbeat jobs report, while optimism around further coronavirus vaccine developments supported hopes of an economic recovery. Other emerging currencies and stocks benefited from investors shunning the U.S. dollar in favour of riskier assets as Britain aimed to start vaccinating citizens next week, while investors weighed possibilities for more U.S. stimulus. Manila shares surged for the third straight session and added 1.6% after data showed the country's unemployment rate in October eased further from a record-high hit in April, as coronavirus curbs were gradually lifted. "It's good. Indeed, markets are reacting to the improving unemployment numbers," said Ruben Carlo O. Asuncion, chief economist at The Union Bank of the Philippines. "Overall, the prospects are good and positive," Asuncion said, though he flagged "cautious optimism" in the absence of a vaccine in the country and concerns about new infections. Indonesian stocks gave up most of their early gains and the rupiah was set for its worst day in two weeks after President Joko Widodo called on Bank Indonesia (BI) to take on "a more significant role" in reforms. "The statement does mean that the ghost of BI independence has not been buried," said Kunal Kundu, an India-based economist at Societe Generale. Proposals to expand BI's mandate and worries over its funding of burgeoning fiscal debt have raised doubts about the central bank's independence in recent months. "BI being expected to play an important role in the recovery process suggests increasing dependence on BI, especially given lack of fiscal space to stimulate the weak economy," Kundu said. "If the line between monetary and fiscal policy gets blurred, the central bank's independence will come under the scanner." Meanwhile, Thailand stocks climbed 0.5% after officials on Wednesday announced plans for 43.5 billion baht ($1.44 billion) of additional stimulus to boost domestic consumption. Gains were capped, however, by concerns of fresh virus outbreaks after Thailand reported several nationals infected with COVID-19 had illegally entered the country and skipped quarantine. "While there is light at the end of the tunnel, we need to be reminded that we are still in the tunnel," said Kobsidthi Silpachai, head of capital markets research at Kasikornbank. "News of fresh COVID-19 cases might provide investors with an excuse to take money off the table." HIGHLIGHTS: ** Thailand's 10-year government bond yields are down 3 basis points at 1.325% ** Top gainers on FTSE Bursa Malaysia Kl Index include RHB Bank up 4.68%, Telekom Malaysia up 3.38% and PETRONAS Chemicals Group up​ 2.99% ** In the Philippines, top index gainers are Security Bank up 6.88%, Metro Pacific Investments up 6.38% and Bank of the Philippine Islands up​ 5% Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0647 GMT COUNTRY FX RIC FX FX YTD INDE STOCK STOC DAILY % X S KS % DAILY YTD % % Japan -0.05 +3.98 <.N2 0.03 13.3 25> 3 China <CNY=CFX +0.01 +6.11 <.SS 0.00 13.0 S> EC> 9 India -0.18 -3.40 <.NS 0.24 8.03 EI> Indones -0.21 -1.70 <.JK 0.18 -7.5 ia SE> 4 Malaysi +0.07 +0.42 <.KL 0.93 1.56 a SE> Philipp -0.02 +5.41 <.PS 1.60 -7.9 ines I> 5 S.Korea <KRW=KFT +0.35 +5.41 <.KS 0.57 22.4 C> 11> 5 Singapo -0.08 +0.45 <.ST 0.15 -12. re I> 65 Taiwan +1.26 +5.98 <.TW -0.09 16.5 II> 0 Thailan -0.03 -0.99 <.SE 0.46 -9.8 d TI> 3 (Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)

EMERGING MARKETS-Philippine stocks lead gains as jobs report signals recovery

Dec 03 2020

* Graphic: World FX rates http://tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh * Graphic: Foreign flows into Asian stocks https://tmsnrt.rs/3lKhL5I * Rupiah sees worst day since Nov. 19 * Malaysia stocks firm 1% By Shashwat Awasthi Dec 3 The Philippines led gains among emerging Asian stock markets on Thursday after an upbeat jobs report, while optimism around further coronavirus vaccine developments supported hopes of an economic recovery. Other emerging currencies and stocks benefited from investors shunning the U.S. dollar in favour of riskier assets as Britain aimed to start vaccinating citizens next week, while investors weighed possibilities for more U.S. stimulus. Manila shares surged for the third straight session and added 1.6% after data showed the country's unemployment rate in October eased further from a record-high hit in April, as coronavirus curbs were gradually lifted. "It's good. Indeed, markets are reacting to the improving unemployment numbers," said Ruben Carlo O. Asuncion, chief economist at The Union Bank of the Philippines. "Overall, the prospects are good and positive," Asuncion said, though he flagged "cautious optimism" in the absence of a vaccine in the country and concerns about new infections. Indonesian stocks gave up most of their early gains and the rupiah was set for its worst day in two weeks after President Joko Widodo called on Bank Indonesia (BI) to take on "a more significant role" in reforms. "The statement does mean that the ghost of BI independence has not been buried," said Kunal Kundu, an India-based economist at Societe Generale. Proposals to expand BI's mandate and worries over its funding of burgeoning fiscal debt have raised doubts about the central bank's independence in recent months. "BI being expected to play an important role in the recovery process suggests increasing dependence on BI, especially given lack of fiscal space to stimulate the weak economy," Kundu said. "If the line between monetary and fiscal policy gets blurred, the central bank's independence will come under the scanner." Meanwhile, Thailand stocks climbed 0.5% after officials on Wednesday announced plans for 43.5 billion baht ($1.44 billion) of additional stimulus to boost domestic consumption. Gains were capped, however, by concerns of fresh virus outbreaks after Thailand reported several nationals infected with COVID-19 had illegally entered the country and skipped quarantine. "While there is light at the end of the tunnel, we need to be reminded that we are still in the tunnel," said Kobsidthi Silpachai, head of capital markets research at Kasikornbank. "News of fresh COVID-19 cases might provide investors with an excuse to take money off the table." HIGHLIGHTS: ** Thailand's 10-year government bond yields are down 3 basis points at 1.325% ** Top gainers on FTSE Bursa Malaysia Kl Index include RHB Bank up 4.68%, Telekom Malaysia up 3.38% and PETRONAS Chemicals Group up​ 2.99% ** In the Philippines, top index gainers are Security Bank up 6.88%, Metro Pacific Investments up 6.38% and Bank of the Philippine Islands up​ 5% Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0647 GMT COUNTRY FX RIC FX FX YTD INDE STOCK STOC DAILY % X S KS % DAILY YTD % % Japan -0.05 +3.98 <.N2 0.03 13.3 25> 3 China <CNY=CFX +0.01 +6.11 <.SS 0.00 13.0 S> EC> 9 India -0.18 -3.40 <.NS 0.24 8.03 EI> Indones -0.21 -1.70 <.JK 0.18 -7.5 ia SE> 4 Malaysi +0.07 +0.42 <.KL 0.93 1.56 a SE> Philipp -0.02 +5.41 <.PS 1.60 -7.9 ines I> 5 S.Korea <KRW=KFT +0.35 +5.41 <.KS 0.57 22.4 C> 11> 5 Singapo -0.08 +0.45 <.ST 0.15 -12. re I> 65 Taiwan +1.26 +5.98 <.TW -0.09 16.5 II> 0 Thailan -0.03 -0.99 <.SE 0.46 -9.8 d TI> 3 (Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)

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