EMERGING MARKETS-Asian stocks, FX climb; Malaysia c.bank meeting awaited

·3-min read

* BNM expected to hike cash rate by 25 basis points * Rupee eyes best session since Aug 30 * Singapore stocks mark best day since July 22 By Tejaswi Marthi Sept 8 (Reuters) - Most Asian currencies rose on Thursday in cautious trade as investors awaited a speech by U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, while the Malaysian ringgit steadied ahead of an expected rate hike by the country's central bank. The Indian rupee rose 0.3% and was eyeing its best session in a week. The Malaysian ringgit and Indonesian rupiah inched nearly 0.1% higher. Even though most Asian currencies steadied on Thursday, bearish bets on them hit a record high due to a resurgent dollar and weakness in the yuan amid worsening COVID-19 lockdowns in China, a Reuters poll found. However, "the negative reaction from the U.S. dollar and U.S. Treasury yields may provide some comfort in suggesting that markets may be getting more accustomed to the higher-for-longer rate narrative," said Yeap Jun Rong at IG. Powell will participate in a discussion at a Cato Institute conference, where the rhetoric on rate hikes would remain hawkish overall. Malaysia's central bank, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), will meet later in the day and is expected to hike its key rate by another 25 basis points to curb price pressures. Although Malaysian inflation surpassed the BNM's target range, it is still relatively moderate compared with other Southeast Asian countries, allowing the central bank to move at a slower pace. "Much focus will be on any guidance on the path ahead. While inflation is likely to remain a concern, the BNM might start to pay more heed to slower global growth momentum," analysts at OCBC Bank observed. Equities in Asia rallied after tracking gains on the Wall Street as benchmark U.S. Treasury yields eased, while oil prices steadied at levels not seen since before Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Equities in Singapore and Indonesia rose 0.9% each to lead gains among its peers, followed by the Philippines stocks, which climbed 0.6%. Stocks in Malaysia and Thailand also rose. Oil prices settled below $90 - something only seen prior to Russia's invasion of Ukraine in late February - as downbeat trade data from top consumer China fed investor worries about recession risks. China's weak economic data and stringent zero-COVID policy added to demand concerns. Its crude oil imports in August fell 9.4% from a year earlier, customs data showed. HIGHLIGHTS: ** Top gainers on Singapore's benchmark index are Jardine Cycle & Carriage and Mapletree Pan Asia Commercial Trust up 2.2% each, and Mapletree Industrial Trust , up 1.8% ** Indonesia's benchmark 10-year yields climb 7.268% to its highest since July 29 ** Indonesia regions told to curb transport costs to contain inflation Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0428 GMT COUNTRY FX RIC FX FX INDE STOCKS STOCKS DAILY % YTD % X DAILY YTD % % Japan -0.10 -20.0 <.N2 2.06 -2.78 0 25> China EC> India +0.30 -6.84 <.NS 0.79 2.36 EI> Indonesi +0.06 -4.40 <.JK 0.90 10.36 a SE> Malaysia +0.04 -7.43 <.KL 0.22 -4.66 SE> Philippi -0.33 -10.8 <.PS 0.60 -7.89 nes 4 I> S.Korea 7 11> Singapor -0.04 -3.95 <.ST 0.86 3.67 e I> Taiwan +0.04 -10.4 <.TW 1.00 -20.12 4 II> Thailand -0.15 -8.41 <.SE 0.29 -0.78 TI> (Reporting by Tejaswi Marthi; Editing by Kim Coghill)