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EMERGING MARKETS-Thai baht dips on suspected intervention; stocks up on vaccine boost

Shriya Ramakrishnan
·3-min read

* Graphic: World FX rates * Graphic: Foreign flows into Asian stocks * Philippine shares hit near 9-month high * Singapore stocks gain ahead of PM's national address * S.Korea lags as surging COVID-19 cases dent sentiment By Shriya Ramakrishnan Dec 14 (Reuters) - The Thai baht hovered around the key 30-per-dollar level on Monday with traders reporting suspected intervention by the central bank, while most Asian stock markets rose on hopes for a vaccine-linked economic recovery. The baht, which resumed trade after an extended weekend, inched down 0.1% to 30.07 against the dollar, and stayed around those levels, which Thai exporters have urged the central bank to preserve to maintain competitiveness. Last week, Thailand's central bank stepped in to slow volatility in the currency so it would not affect economic recovery, after the baht had strengthened to a one-year high of 29 baht per U.S. dollar. "When we look at the price action and the amount of FX reserves the Bank of Thailand has been accumulating on a trend basis, it would suggest they are amassing U.S. dollars in an attempt to try to slow down the downside of USD/THB," said Kobsidthi Silpachai, head of capital markets research at Kasikornbank. "The impetus behind strengthening of the baht continues to be the fundamentals of the current account surplus. The only thing which would probably throw a wrench in the works would be a COVID-19 outbreak as we had in March." In equity markets, Singapore's FTSE Straits Times Index jumped 1.5% to lead regional gains and the Singapore dollar firmed, ahead of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's national address on the COVID-19 situation in the city state. Government officials have previously said further easing of COVID-19 curbs was possible by the end of the year, with only a handful of local cases reported in recent weeks. Indonesian stocks also gained 1%, with investors looking ahead to the release of November trade figures on Tuesday for Southeast Asia's largest economy. A Reuters poll expects Indonesia to report another sizable trade surplus for last month. In the Philippines, the peso advanced 0.2% and stocks climbed to their highest since Feb. 21, as the central bank raised its projections for current account and balance of payments surpluses this year and in 2021. South Korea's KOSPI lagged its peers for the day and the won traded flat to lower on concerns over surging domestic coronavirus cases. South Korea ordered schools to close from Tuesday in the capital Seoul and surrounding areas, as the country which had initial success in controlling COVID-19, now battles a harsh third wave of infections. HIGHLIGHTS: ** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields are down 6.5 basis points at 6.117% ** Top gainers on the Singapore STI include Keppel Corporation Ltd up 3.1% at S$5.32, Comfortdelgro Corporation Ltd up 3.03% at S$1.7, SATS Ltd up ​2.43% at S$4.21 ** In the Philippines, top index gainers are Security Bank Corp up 7.17% at 147.9 peso, LT Group Inc up 4.63% at 14 peso, Robinsons Land Corp up ​3.66% at 21.2 peso Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0424 GMT COUNTRY FX RIC FX FX YTD INDEX STOCKS STOCKS DAILY % DAILY YTD % % % Japan +0.02 +4.44 0.56 13.30 China +0.11 +6.48 0.40 10.18 India 0.00 -3.08 0.45 11.56 Indonesia -0.07 -1.42 1.02 -4.77 Malaysia +0.05 +1.01 0.51 6.57 Philippines +0.15 +5.43 0.72 -6.61 S.Korea -0.04 +6.02 0.10 26.17 Singapore +0.14 +0.75 1.47 -11.16 Taiwan +1.00 +6.92 -0.27 18.56 Thailand -0.07 -0.53 -0.09 -6.24 (Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by Himani Sarkar)