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EMERGING MARKETS-Indonesia rupiah steady, stocks fall after c.bank rate cut, GDP downgrade

Anushka Trivedi
·3-min read

* Graphic: World FX rates https://tmsnrt.rs/2RBWI5E * Indonesia cenbank also cuts lending facility rate * Do not see scope for another rate cut by BI going forward-analysts * SingTel shares drop on data breach By Anushka Trivedi Feb 18 (Reuters) - The Indonesian rupiah was little changedwhile stocks declined after the country's central bank cutinterest rates by 25 basis points, as expected, and downgradedthe economic growth outlook for 2021. Bank Indonesia (BI) slashed the benchmark rate to 3.50%, itssixth since the start of the pandemic, but saw "limited" roomfor any more cuts even as it acknowledged the weakness in policytransmission since loans have struggled to pick up. Rupiah was flat in the run up to the decision afterweakening 0.7% over the past two sessions, while stocksfell 0.4%, retreating from a 0.9% jump in the morning trade. BI also trimmed the lending facility rate and relaxed someborrowing rules as it now forecasts slower economic growth in2021 due to the harsh second wave of COVID-19 infections, butbanked on vaccines to drive a rebound. "While a relatively stable currency in general helped BI toopt for a cut, it needs to be remembered that weak economicactivity is the prime reason for Indonesia's healthy currentaccount balance," said Kunal Kundu, an economist at SocieteGenerale. "Going forward, we do not see any further scope of rate cutby BI unless the COVID-19 situation worsens even further." The central bank signalled it would use other means toprovide monetary help, including continuing to buy governmentbonds, which BNP Paribas' head of ASEAN Economics Arup Raha sawas vital if done in tandem with fiscal support. Indonesia financed its 2020 fiscal deficit and COVID-19stimulus by raising debt, a good portion of which was bought bythe central bank. Other currencies in the region eased as the dollarfirmed on signs of a pickup in the U.S. economy. The Malaysianringgit, the Thai baht and the Philippine peso all fell around 0.2%. Most Asian stocks were also downbeat, with the Straits TimesIndex slipping 0.5% after Singapore Telecommunications slumped on reporting a privacy breach, which led todata of some consumers being stolen. HIGHLIGHTS ** Indonesia c. bank says rupiah has room to strengthen, isfundamentally undervalued ** South Korea stocks slid 1.5% to a one-week low oncontinuing jump in coronavirus cases ** JGS Summit and Aboitiz Equity are toplosers on the Philippine index Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0817 GMT COUNTRY FX RIC FX DAILY % FX YTD % INDEX STOCKS DAILY % STOCKS YTD % Japan +0.02 -2.45 -0.19 10.17 China -0.20 +0.89 0.55 5.82 India -0.01 +0.44 -0.74 7.98 Indonesia +0.00 +0.21 -0.44 3.70 Malaysia -0.15 -0.57 -0.64 -2.59 Philippines -0.23 -1.01 -1.68 -4.06 S.Korea -0.01 -1.93 -1.50 7.42 Singapore +0.01 -0.56 -0.54 2.14 Taiwan +0.18 +0.54 0.38 11.48 Thailand -0.10 -0.17 0.11 4.64 (Reporting by Anushka Trivedi in Bengaluru; Editing by KrishnaChandra Eluri)