Philippine shares lead in Asia as c.bank comes into focus

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The Philippines stock market rose 1%

after its central bank assured investors it had the tools to

manage the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, ahead of

a policy meeting on Thursday where it is expected to keep

interest rates steady.

Stocks in Manila and most other regional markets also

took a positive cue from Wall Street overnight as investors

reacted calmly to the Federal Reserve’s timeline to taper asset

purchases and hike interest rates.

Shares in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore

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and Thailand added between 0.4% to 0.7%. South

Korean stocks played catch on their return to trading

after an extended holiday, however, falling 0.7%.

On Wednesday, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said it had

ample space in its monetary policy toolkit to deal with the

impact of the pandemic, as risks from a resurgence in COVID-19

cases and curbs remain in the Philippines.

BSP is widely expected to keep its key interest rate steady

at a record low for a seventh straight meeting. However,

economists have warned that rising inflation is likely to limit

BSP’s room for further policy easing.

Philippines’ inflation quickened to 4.9% last month, its

fastest pace in nearly three years, above the policymakers’

2%-4% target range.

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BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno “is expected to look past the

inflation breach as he hopes to provide monetary support for the

fledgling economic recovery,” said Robert Carnell, regional head

of research, Asia-Pacific at Dutch bank ING.

“We forecast Diokno keeping rates unchanged for as long as

the Philippines is in recovery mode with the first policy

adjustment coming not earlier than mid-2022.”

The BSP is set to announce its decision at around 0800 GMT.

Regional currencies were largely mixed as dealers held on to

the safe-haven U.S. dollar while they awaited developments from

Evergrande, which faces a Thursday deadline to pay interest on

one of its dollar bonds.

Markets earlier this week feared the property developer’s

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debt crisis could have a ripple effect on global markets,

although analysts later played down those concerns.

The Thai baht slid 0.4% as the country’s decision to

delay reopening cities to foreign tourists overshadowed the

government’s promise to speed up COVID-19 vaccinations and

introduce urgent stimulus to support the economy.

HIGHLIGHTS:

** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields up 4.6

basis points at 6.252%.

** The top gainer on the Philippines index was Jollibee

Foods, up 5.8%.

Asia stock indexes and

currencies at 0404 GMT

COUNTRY FX RIC FX FX INDE STOCKS STOCK

DAILY YTD % X DAILY S YTD

% % %

Japan -0.03 -5.98 <.n2>

China EC>

India +0.00 -1.09 <.ns ei>

Indones +0.00 -1.40 <.jk ia se>

Malaysi +0.14 -3.94 <.kl a se>

Philipp -0.08 -4.61 <.ps ines i>

S.Korea 11>

Singapo +0.16 -2.26 <.st re i>

Taiwan +0.01 +2.53 <.tw ii>

Thailan -0.18 -10.5 <.se d ti>

(Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi; editing by Richard Pullin)

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