BENGALURU: Indonesian shares jumped nearly 1% on Wednesday to lead gains among most emerging Asian equities, as China Evergrande's promise to pay some bond interest calmed nerves, while Singapore stocks hit four-month lows due to a spike in COVID-19 cases.
Shares in Manila moved further away from multi-week lows and equities in Jakarta were set for their best day since Aug. 30 after Evergrande allayed fears of an imminent collapse.
Markets had already begun to stabilise on Tuesday as analysts downplayed the potential fallout from the Chinese property giant's debt crisis and saw that relief seep into Wednesday.
Jakarta's benchmark also bounced after Bank Indonesia (BI) kept interest rates at record lows and backed its 2021 growth forecast on Tuesday, even though coronavirus curbs likely hampered economic growth in the third quarter.
Any reduction in Indonesian rates ahead of this week's Federal Reserve policy meeting, which is being closely watched for signals on its plan for stimulus tapering, would have left the rupiah vulnerable.
"The need to secure rupiah stability added to the reasons for the central bank to keep rates on hold ahead of the U.S. FOMC meeting this week," research analysts at Singapore-based DBS said.
They also said Indonesian rates had bottomed out and liquidity management would likely be BI's first step towards policy normalisation in 2022, while they expect the rupiah to be stable between 14,000-15,000 per dollar going into 2022.
Chinese shares, which began trading after an extended holiday, came off a near three-week low hit earlier in the session to climb 0.2%.
The country stood pat on its benchmark lending rate for the 17th straight month.
Taiwanese stocks were notable laggards. They too traded after holidays but sank 2%, while Singapore shares gave up 0.5% after the city-state reported its highest daily COVID-19 cases since April last year.
Most regional currencies traded flat to marginally lower against the U.S. dollar, with investors on their toes ahead of the Fed's announcement.
In the FX space, "near-term catalysts will lie on whether there will be a hawkish stance from the Fed, and if developments in China Evergrande will drive further risk-off moves," said Yeap Jun Rong, a market strategist at IG.
Looking ahead, a report from Philippines' Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is due on Thursday. The central bank is widely expected to keep its key interest rate steady at a record low.
** Thailand's 10-year benchmark yields are up 2 basis points at 1.81%.
** The top gainer on the Jakarta stock index was Andalan Sakti Primaindo, up 34.6%.
** The top loser on the Singapore benchmark was Yangzijiang Shipbuilding, down 2.1%. - Reuters