Emerging markets: Philippines hits 2-month high as curbs ease, Thai politics take limelight

Traders work on the trading floor of the Philippine Stock Exchange amid the coronavirus disease outbreak, in Taguig City, Metro Manila, Philippines. Shares jumped nearly 2% on Tuesday as an easing of coronavirus restrictions cheered investors in Manila. - Reuters

MANILA, Oct 20 (Reuters): Philippine shares jumped nearly 2% on Tuesday as an easing of coronavirus restrictions cheered investors, while Thai markets headed for a fifth session of losses as anti-government protests dented hopes for a domestic economic recovery.

The Philippines, one of Asia's worst hit countries in the pandemic, shortened curfew hours in Manila and eased regulations on stay-at-home orders on Monday, just a week after a ban on non-essential overseas travel was lifted.

With most emerging Asian currency and stock markets trading lower, Manila's benchmark stock index surged 1.9% to its highest since Aug. 19, boosted by gains in blue-chip consumer stocks.

"Risk appetite seems to be improving as the nation gears up for a broader and stronger economic rebound," said Jennifer Lomboy, a fixed income fund manager at First Metro Asset Management.

Markets also drew relief from the timely passage of the 2021 budget, after a leadership row nearly derailed debates on the spending plan aimed at underpinning a recovery for the economy.

"This gives the senate a two-week head start to study the bill before sessions resume in November, hence (there is a) low probability for a re-enacted budget," Lomboy added.

Thai stocks dipped another 0.3% to trade around six-month intraday lows touched in the previous session, while the baht weakened as thousands of protesters took to the streets in Bangkok on Monday, defying a ban on demonstrations.

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha's cabinet agreed on Tuesday to hold a special session of parliament next week, Thai media said.

"We had factored in rising political uncertainties, but the political situation now is worse than expected," analysts at CGS-CIMB Research said in a note. "We remain cautious on the Thai market and prefer sectors and companies that are less reliant on the domestic market."

Thailand has already suffered a record US$9.16 billion in equity outflows so far this year, exchange data shows.

Other stock markets and currencies across the region traded lower as doubts about a stimulus package in the United State and record daily coronavirus infections in Europe steered investors away from riskier bets.

The South Korean won and Taiwan dollar stood out with gains of 0.2% and 0.9% respectively against the greenback. - Reuters
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