Philippine stocks tumble as regional markets wobble on Omicron fears

  • Markets on edge as Omicron variant stokes fresh COVID fears
  • Singapore stocks hit more than 1-mth low
  • Baht down for 7th day
  • Indonesia benchmark bond prices slump, rupiah eases

Nov 29 (Reuters) - Philippine shares tumbled on Monday, while the Thai baht eased as financial markets were on edge on concerns the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus could derail a nascent re-opening of economies around the world.

Manila stocks (.PSI) dived 3.8% at the open to seven-week lows, but later recouped losses to trade around 1.5% down.

Their peers in Malaysia (.KLSE), Taiwan (.TWII) and Indonesia (.JKSE) also pared early losses after U.S. stock futures climbed 1%.

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While South Korea, Indonesia and other Asian countries curbed arrivals from eight southern African nations over Omicron worries, the Philippines extended its ban to include some European countries and scrapped plans to open its borders to foreign visitors from this week. read more

In comparison to the Delta variant, the "Omicron's kind and characteristics are still being determined, which puts markets outlook on a more uncertain footing until credible science indicates otherwise," said Ruben Carlo O. Asuncion, chief economist at Union Bank of the Philippines.

Singapore stocks (.STI) declined 1% to their lowest level since Oct. 13 while the local dollar traded flat, with fears growing that the city-state's government may have to scale back recently relaxed curbs.

Overall, however, markets were a bit calmer compared to the selloff on Friday as investors waited on more data to assess the ramifications of Omicron's impact, with several analysts cautioning that trade could be choppy for the next few weeks.

The Thai baht dipped 0.4% and was on course to fall for the seventh straight day as the country also imposed border curbs, raising concerns about its struggling economy as hopes were pinned on a tourism revival to drive a rebound. read more

"If Omicron anxiety turns out to have been a storm in a teacup, then perhaps that selloff (in the baht) was overdone and we can anticipate some decent bounce there too," Robert Carnell, regional head of Asia-Pacific research at ING wrote.

The Indonesian rupiah eased 0.3%, with investors continuing to exit the country's high yielding debt market. Yields on the 10-year paper have firmed around 8 basis points to 6.28% over two sessions.


** Singapore's 10-year benchmark yield is up around 3.7 basis points at 1.752%

** Top losers on FTSE Bursa Malaysia Kl Index (.KLSE): Press Metal Aluminium Holdings Bhd (PMET.KL), down 4%, and PETRONAS Chemicals Group Bhd (PCGB.KL), down 2.9%

** Top losers on the Singapore STI (.STI) include: Thai Beverage PCL (TBEV.SI) down 2.2% and Comfortdelgro Corp Ltd (CMDG.SI) down 2%

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Reporting by Anushka Trivedi in Bengaluru Editing by Shri Navaratnam

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