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EMERGING MARKETS-Baht slumps on virus woes, Indonesia stocks rise on growth cheer

·3-min read

* Philippine inflation eases * Thai stocks down 0.7% * Rupiah slides from 6-week high By Soumyajit Saha Aug 5 (Reuters) - Thailand's baht hit its lowest level in nearly three years on Thursday as the country's daily new COVID-19 cases reached a record high, while Indonesia stocks surged as Southeast Asia's biggest economy pulled out of a recession. The baht weakened to levels last seen in October 2018, remaining the worst-performing currency in Southeast Asia as a crushing coronavirus wave dented recovery hopes. Thai stocks were down about 0.7%, as the country on Thursday reported a record 20,920 COVID-19 cases and 160 fatalities. On Wednesday, the Bank of Thailand said it was again downgrading its growth forecast for this year to 0.7% from 1.8% predicted in June, while also cutting its 2022 growth outlook to 3.7%, from 3.9% forecasted earlier. "Given the economic scenario, the dissent in the policy meeting was interesting... while economies around the world are turning hawkish, the BoT instead of holding rates could even move to cut them," said Sim Moh Siong, a currency strategist at Bank of Singapore. Thailand's tourism-reliant economy will likely only see 150,000 visitors this year, the central bank also warned. Before the pandemic, tourism accounted for nearly 12% of GDP, and the country saw almost 40 million visitors in 2019. Elsewhere, Jakarta shares climbed to their highest in over four months as the economy broke free from recession, posting its first quarterly GDP growth in five. However, analysts warned the recovery would likely suffer a setback due to a recent surge in COVID-19 infections. The rupiah, meanwhile, weakened from six-week highs hit in the previous session. The Philippine peso weakened in its worst session in over two weeks, as the country's inflation hit a seven-month low in July. The central bank said prices may ease further after strict COVID-19 curbs are reimposed, giving more leeway to keep interest rates at a record low for longer. "The peso's recent moves have been a bit of a mystery in the absence of huge fundamental news," Siong said, adding that the bank's commentary on rates and wider Delta variant fears could be driving the day's movement. HIGHLIGHTS ** Thailand's 10-year government bond yields down 3 basis points at 1.47%​​ ** Singapore's 10-year benchmark yield up 2.3 basis points at 1.33%​​ Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0650 GMT COUNTRY FX RIC FX FX INDEX STOCKS STOCKS DAILY YTD % DAILY YTD % % % Japan -0.18 -5.86 0.52 1.03 China +0.02 +0.97 -0.31 -0.19 India -0.10 -1.61 0.04 16.33 Indonesia -0.31 -2.19 0.75 3.78 Malaysia -0.02 -4.76 0.09 -8.27 Philippines -1.07 -4.55 -0.58 -8.30 S.Korea -0.01 -5.03 -0.13 14.01 Singapore -0.03 -2.24 -0.30 11.59 Taiwan +0.24 +2.58 -0.12 19.48 Thailand -0.15 -9.68 -0.59 6.03 (Reporting by Soumyajit Saha in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)

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