South-East Asia: Philippines, Indonesia recover on upbeat US data; Thai baht firms

  • Indonesia
  • Tuesday, 04 Aug 2020

JAKARTA/MANILA Aug 4 (Reuters): Share markets in Indonesia and the Philippines recovered more than 1% on Tuesday after sharp falls a day earlier, as strong US manufacturing data lifted investor spirits globally, offsetting worries over surging coronavirus cases at home.

Indonesia's rupiah also dipped by a third of a percent but other currencies across Asia's developing economies were steady to marginally higher, with the Thai baht up 0.6% ahead of this week's central bank meeting.

Manila and Jakarta's benchmarks had slid on Monday after both countries extended lockdowns in their capitals as healthcare facilities struggled to handle cases. A number of analysts have said the second round of restrictions will spell more economic pain than the first, given that corporate cash reserves have now dried up and many citizens are already out of work.

Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst for Asia Pacific at OANDA, said that Monday's US PMI survey had propped up expectations that a modest global recovery was on the way, fuelling gains in most Asian shares.

He said that gains in the Philippines and Indonesia could be partially driven by bargain hunting, as investors snap up cheapened stocks in the wake of Monday's near 4% drop.

"The flows look very much like fast money and it wouldn't take much to send them scurrying for the exit doors just as quickly," he added.

Malaysian equities edged higher close to the bell, recovering from losses of more than 1% sustained earlier after the country's biggest glove maker Hartalega Holdings fell after first-quarter results. Hartalega, which has had a massive 250% run of gains so far this year and is trading at 48 times its forecast 12-month earnings - much higher than its peers, dipped despite posting a huge jump in profit and revenue.

Smaller rival Top Glove Holdings, also steeply valued and fighting a US import ban over its labour practices, slipped after Hartalega's earnings update.

On currency markets, the baht touched its best level in four weeks ahead of Wednesday's central bank decision on interest rates. Having cut three times this year to an all-time low of 0.50%, the Bank of Thailand (BOT) is expected to stand pat.

"The space for conventional rate cuts has diminished and comments from BOT officials suggest a 0% policy rate is unlikely," analysts at ANZ wrote in a note.

The BOT's focus would be on improving the effectiveness of its current policies, while yield curve control could be studied as another potential option, they added. - Reuters
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