Emerging Markets: Indonesia stocks drop on rising virus toll, chipmakers boost S. Korea


JAKARTA, Jan 25 (Reuters): Indonesia led most of Asia's emerging stock markets lower on Monday after coronavirus cases rose in the country, while a global shortage of chips pushed South Korean shares up more than 2%.

Hopes that the new US administration would pass a promised US$1.9 trillion in fiscal stimulus, however, supported sentiment in Asia, which took a hit from delays in vaccine supplies and spikes in coronavirus cases globally.

India, Singapore and Malaysia all fell less than half a percent. "Markets are not in dire despair," Mizuho Bank said in a note to clients.

"But earlier optimism, and the consequent reflationary reactions are being subjected to some degree of re-calibration. And caution is being baked in."

The sharp 2.5% fall in Jakarta in early trade eased although shares remained at a more than two-week low. Indonesia recorded two days of record coronavirus deaths last week and has one of Asia's highest case loads.

Covid-19 cases are rising in the capital Jakarta and East Java, two parts of the country that are key contributors to Indonesia's economy, said Mirae Asset Sekuritas.

The rupiah, favoured by foreign investors looking to tap Indonesia's high-yielding debt, was flat, while the region's emerging currencies were marginally higher as the dollar held steady ahead of the US Federal Reserve's meeting this week.

The Fed is expected to stay dovish and markets will watch for any comments about inflation.

"That's always a difficult tightrope to walk," said Robert Carnell, ING's Asia-Pacific head of research, referring to the Fed's message. "So (that) could explain why markets are not committing themselves ahead of the meeting," he added.

South Korea's chip giants Samsung Electronics, one of the world's largest contract chip makers, and SK Hynix rose 3% and 5.1%, respectively, and pushed South Korea's benchmark index up 2.2% - a clear outlier in the region.

Key industries are concerned about a global shortage of chips that is causing manufacturing delays for cars and electronic devices just as consumer demand shows signs of a recovery.

The world's biggest chipmaker, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC), told Taiwan's economics ministry it would prioritise the production of auto chips if it could, noting that current capacity is full. TSMC shares fell 2.5%. - Reuters
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Indonesia , Stock Market , Down , orries , Covid-19 , Total , Death Toll


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