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Indonesian rupiah climbs, other Asian FX muted amid holiday lull

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  • Indonesia’s rupiah eyeing best week since early May
  • S.Korea’s won gains for third straight day
  • Regional equities mixed; Philippine, China shares decline

Dec 24 (Reuters) – The Indonesian rupiah hit its highest in nearly two months on Friday and was eyeing its best weekly gain since early May, boosted by improving market sentiment on hopes the Omicron coronavirus variant won’t damage the economy too much.

Most other Asian emerging currencies clung to narrow ranges against the dollar, while equities were largely mixed in thin trading on Christmas Eve.

Global markets, including major indexes on Wall Street, notched modest gains, with the S&P 500 (.SPX) closing at a record high overnight on signs that Omicron is less likely to lead to hospitalization. read more

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Vaccine makers AstraZeneca Plc (AZN.L) and Novavax Inc (NVAX.O) said their shots protected against Omicron, and data indicated both Merck’s (MRK.N) and Pfizer’s (PFE.N) COVID-19 anti-viral pills are effective against the variant, providing another glimmer of hope to the markets.

That put pressure on the dollar, which slipped marginally against a basket of currencies. The U.S. dollar index was flat at 96.062, lingering near its one-week low.

Analysts at Mizuho Bank termed it as a “Santa pause” which seemed to be more a consequence of heightened uncertainty amid conflicting economic risks and policy signals, than a “risk-on” holiday-cheer rally as more clarity is needed on the Omicron variant.

In Asia, the rupiah , one of the best performing currencies in the region, appreciated 0.5% to 14,170 per dollar, its highest since Nov. 1 and was on track to gain more than 1% for the week.

Bank Indonesia’s governor saw Indonesian bonds, one of the highest yielding in Southeast Asia, rising by 50 basis points (bps) in the third quarter of next year as U.S. Treasury yields are expected to rise by between 50 to 75 bps due to policy tightening there. read more

Indonesia’s 10-year benchmark yields slipped for a fourth straight day to 6.385%, their lowest in a week, as investor inflow increased on brighter prospects for the economy, thus benefiting the currency.

Among other regional units, South Korea’s won appreciated 0.2% for its third straight day of gains, but was eyeing a weekly loss owing to heavy declines earlier in the week. The Philippine peso and Malaysian ringgit were largely unchanged.

Equities in Singapore (.STI) finished 0.3% higher on a partial trading day, while South Korea’s KOSPI (.KS11) and the Indonesian benchmark (.JKSE) logged modest gains.

China’s benchmark stock index (.SSEC) declined 0.8% and bluechips (.CSI300) slipped 0.7% a day after rising coronavirus infections in the northwestern city of Xi’an resulted in a lockdown of its 13 million residents. read more

Elsewhere, equities in the Philippines (.PSI) shed 0.8% after advancing nearly 2% in the prior session, while shares in Malaysia (.KLSE) and Thailand (.SETI) edged lower as trading volumes remained thin ahead of the Christmas weekend.

HIGHLIGHTS:

** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields ease to 6.385%, their fourth straight session of losses

** Thai GDP growth of 4% still possible next year despite Omicron -FinMin

** India’s crude imports hit 10-month peak as refiners bank on strong demand

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Reporting by Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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