Emerging markets: Philippines shares go flat as Indonesia shares go on a high and Malaysia stocks hit five-month peak

A man wearing a protective mask sits outside the Philippine Stock Exchange at the central business district as the government implements an "enhanced community quarantine" in the country’s main island Luzon to contain the coronavirus, in Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines, March 17, 2020. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

MANILA, Oct 18 (Reuters): Broader stock gains were capped after data showed China's economy grew at its slowest pace in a year in the third quarter, missing market expectations. Shanghai equities eased 0.2%, while South Korea and Taiwan stocks fell 0.3% and 0.5%, respectively.

Philippine shares were flat. Among currencies, the Philippine peso, South Korea's won and the Singapore dollar fell between 0.2% and 0.4%. The Thai baht eased 0.5% to 33.450, its biggest intraday fall since Oct 6 as the currency erased some of the strong gains posted last week.

The Philippine peso, South Korea's won and the Singapore dollar traded between 0.2% and 0.4% weaker against a firmer US dollar.

Meanwhile, Indonesian shares edged closer to a record high a day before the central bank is expected to hold rates steady at a monetary policy meeting.

Economists in a Reuters poll expect Indonesia's benchmark rate to stay at a record low of 3.50% until late-2022. The central bank slashed rates by 150 basis points during the pandemic.

The Thai baht eased 0.6% to 33.470, marking its worst day since Oct. 6 as it gave up some of the strong gains posted last week.

"As gold prices tanked, some swing traders entered to buy, which is contributing to the weakness in the Thai baht," said Poon Panichpibool, a market strategist at Krung Thai Bank.

HSBC analysts said a sustainable recovery in the baht was only likely in 2022 given the oil-importing country is currently grappling with rising energy prices and a trade deficit.

Meanwhile, Kuala Lumpur stocks hit a five-month peak on Monday, lifted by higher oil prices and hopes of further economic reopening, while Chinese growth numbers missing forecast kept a lid on broader Asian emerging market equities.

The ringgit, however, weakened 0.3% on the day, falling along with its peers against a firm dollar. The Thai baht led losses as traders sold it to buy U.S. dollars to purchase gold, analysts said.

Malaysia equities rose 0.7%, as movement restrictions were further relaxed in Klang Valley, Melaka and five other states, following the government's announcement last week that it would no longer impose wide lockdowns.

Stocks have gained 6% in about a fortnight as net oil exporter Malaysia benefited from higher crude prices and the government lifting travel restrictions for fully-vaccinated residents after hitting its goal to inoculate 90% of the population.

"Kuala Lumpur has risen... as reopening plans gain traction and commodities, especially energy, remain firm," said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst - Asia Pacific, OANDA. Public Bank Bhd and oil and gas explorer Petronas Dagangan were among the top gainers on the benchmark index. - Reuters

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