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EMERGING MARKETS-Asia stocks, currencies rise on U.S. stimulus hopes

·3-min read

* Graphic: World FX rates http://tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh * Singapore sees biggest jump in over 1 month * Philippine central bank likely to keep rates unchanged later * Palm oil producers in Malaysia fall Oct 1 (Reuters) - Singapore's best day in over a month led gains for Asian stock markets and currencies in holiday-thinned trade on Thursday, as the mood among investors globally was bolstered by signs of progress overnight on a U.S. fiscal stimulus. A slew of holidays saw markets in China, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong closed, while technical glitches in Tokyo prompted the bourse to suspend trading for the day. Singapore stocks climbed as much as 1.5%, their biggest jump since mid-August, with a change at the top of Singapore Telecommunications (Singtel) sending its shares nearly 3% higher. The other big gainer was Indonesia, hammered in the past month by coronavirus concerns and worries over the government's moves on the central bank. Shares there rose 0.9%. "Global risk appetite benefited from positive noises around a stimulus deal from Washington," Stephen Innes, chief global market strategist at Axi, said in a note. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Wednesday that progress was being made on a $2.2 trillion relief plan, supporting late gains on Wall Street. The news also helped send the dollar, by far investors' favourite safe haven from the past month's renewed coronavirus outbreaks, to a one-week low, bolstering currencies across the region. Trade data from South Korea, showing exports rising for the first time in seven months in September, also added to positive signals from the Chinese economy earlier in the week. The day's main set piece regionally is a Philippine central bank meeting that is expected to keep interest rates unchanged at a record low of 2.25%, following 175 basis points in cuts this year. The peso was little changed, while stocks gained around half a percent. "Market players have priced in a pause," said Nicholas Mapa, a senior Philippine economist at ING. He said markets were looking at the $11 billion in fresh liquidity the government has asked the central bank to support. "In terms of liquidity, it'll add more funds into the system for the duration of the repurchase agreement but will not likely lead to upward pressure on rates given that it's a deal directly with the central bank," he added. Malaysian stocks bucked the trend, falling 0.7% with a sharp drop coming from palm oil producer FGV Holdings Bhd after the United States banned imports from the company over allegations it uses forced labour. Rival producer Sime Darby Plantation also fell more than 3%. HIGHLIGHTS: ** FGV Holdings slid 9.6% on news of the U.S. ban ** Philippine 10-year benchmark yield is unchanged at 3% ** Singtel appointed an insider as its new group CEO amid a challenging time for the industry, saying its current chief will retire in January after 13 years at the helm Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0347 GMT COUNTRY FX RIC FX FX INDEX STOCKS STOCKS DAILY % YTD % DAILY % YTD % Japan 0.00 +3.00 0.00 -1.99 China - +2.42 - 5.51 India 0.00 -3.23 0.00 -7.57 Indonesia +0.13 -6.34 0.88 -22.01 Malaysia +0.19 -1.35 -0.73 -5.97 Philippines -0.05 +4.44 0.54 -24.56 S.Korea - -1.12 - 5.93 Singapore +0.14 -1.39 1.36 -22.43 Taiwan - +3.36 - 4.32 Thailand +0.19 -5.29 0.21 -21.54 (Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)