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EMERGING MARKETS-Asia shares, currencies climb as region forms biggest free trade bloc

Nikhil Nainan
·3-min read

* 15 Asia-Pacific economies formed the world's largest free trade bloc * Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand gain over 1% * South Korean won hits near 2-year high against the dollar By Nikhil Nainan Nov 16 (Reuters) - South Korea and Singapore led broader Asian stock market gains on Monday following the formation of the world's largest free trade bloc made up largely by countries in the region, with gains further bolstered by upbeat data from China and Japan. Taipei and Bangkok also gained at least 1%, with stocks in Thailand at a more-than three-month high as the economy contracted by less than expected in the third quarter. Over the weekend, 15 Asia-Pacific economies signed the China-backed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which accounts for 30% of the global economy. The grouping aims to lower tariffs and may aid in the post-pandemic recovery amid fractured relations between the United States and China. "The reach and ambitions of the RCEP, looking to abolish some 92% of traded goods tariffs, would be critical in deepening supply-chain linkages," Mizuho Bank said in a note, adding that hopes are "pinned on RCEP helping to catalyze the recovery in global trade and commerce." In Seoul shares climbed 2%, while in Singapore and Shanghai, stocks rose around 1%. Currencies of trade-dependent economies such as the Taiwanese dollar and South Korean won gained around 1% each, with Indonesia's rupiah, the region's carry-trade favourite, up 0.4%. The won hitting a near two-year high on the U.S. dollar caused the country's finance ministry to issue a warning on the currency's movement. Dealers said the central bank was suspected of buying dollars to stem gains. Investors were also buoyed by factory output in China rising faster-than-expected in October, continuing on its recovery path, while Japan's economy grew at the fastest pace on record in the third quarter. Capital Economics said Thailand's GDP data showed the worst is over for the tourism-reliant economy, but warned its recovery will likely be one of the slowest in the region given its reliance on foreign travellers. The baht edged 0.1% higher. Markets in India were closed for a public holiday. HIGHLIGHTS: ** Indonesian 3-year benchmark yields are up 7.5 basis points at 4.992% ** The top gainer in Singapore is Genting Singapore Ltd , followed by Keppel Corp ** Morgan Stanley downgrades Singapore equities to equal-weight, and says China to outperform emerging markets by less in 2021 than in 2020 Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0344 GMT COUNTRY FX FX FX INDEX STOCKS STOCKS RIC DAILY % YTD % DAILY % YTD % Japan +0.10 +3.91 1.65 9.08 China +0.38 +5.80 0.96 9.56 India - -4.32 - 5.03 Indonesia +0.35 -1.56 0.09 -13.23 Malaysia +0.19 -0.56 0.25 0.31 Philippines +0.00 +5.15 -1.17 -11.86 S.Korea +0.70 +4.38 1.87 15.60 Singapore +0.15 -0.05 1.30 -14.78 Taiwan +1.21 +5.63 1.48 12.27 Thailand +0.07 -0.80 1.35 -13.62 (Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)