Moringa Capsules

Most Asian FX decline, Thai baht bucks trend to hit 2-week high - Reuters

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  • Thai baht gains for fourth straight day
  • Philippine peso, Indonesian rupiah, S.Korean won weaken
  • Regional equities mixed; Singapore, Thai shares gain

Jan 4 (Reuters) - The Thai baht firmed to an over two-week high on Tuesday, kicking off the new year on a positive note, as investors looked beyond clouds cast by the spreading Omicron coronavirus variant, while most other Asian emerging currencies weakened.

Notching a fourth straight session of gains, the baht appreciated 0.3% to 33.26 per dollar, its highest since late November.

The Thai currency's strong start to 2022 comes after it suffered its worst decline in two decade. The baht depreciated 11% last year as the pandemic hammered Thailand's key tourism sector.

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Elsewhere, prospects of an early Federal Reserve interest hike despite surging COVID-19 cases put Asian currencies on the backfoot. FEDWATCH.

The Philippine peso depreciated 0.4% to hit a more than three-month low, while the Indonesian rupiah , the Malaysian ringgit and the South Korean won each weakened about 0.3%.

The U.S. dollar index , which measures the currency against the yen and five other major peers, weakened slightly but held close to the one-week high of 96.328 reached on Monday. .

Overnight, all three major indexes on Wall Street finished strongly, and the U.S. Treasury yields gained on expectations of an earlier-than-expected rate hike as inflation fears outweighed the rising COVID-19 cases.

"Markets seem to have retained memories of 2021 and put Omicron in the backdrop with focus on Fed rate hikes leading to higher U.S. Treasury yields and underpinning U.S. dollar strength alongside continued buoyancy in equities," analysts at Mizuho Bank said in a note.

Poon Panichpibool, markets strategist at Krung Thai Bank said the ongoing impact of the Omicron variant and likely tightening by the Fed could prevent any sharp appreciation by the baht.

He expected the Thai currency to hold in a range between 32.75 and 33.50 per dollar before strengthening by the end of 2022.

"For the second half, an improving economic recovery in Thailand and elsewhere should support more fund flows into emerging markets and Thailand. Along with that, a low current account deficit could help the baht reach between 31.75 and 32.00 by the end of this year," Panichpibool added.

Elsewhere, China's yuan slipped as much as 0.4% to 6.3695 per dollar on its first trading day of the year, while Japan's yen weakened 0.4% to hit its lowest level since early 2017 after declining for a fifth straight session.

Shares in Singapore (.STI), Thailand (.SETI) and Indonesia (.JKSE) advanced between 0.5% and 1.2%, while Malaysian equities (.KLSE) declined up to 0.8% on their second day in the red.

Meanwhile, the Philippine stock exchange (.PSI) suffered an unexplained delay in opening. It said it would issue a statement later.

HIGHLIGHTS:

** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields rises to 6.391%

** China to require certain firms to undergo cybersecurity reviews before pursuing overseas listings read more

** Oil prices steady ahead of OPEC+ output policy meeting

** India reports most COVID-19 cases since early September read more

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Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0352 GMT

COUNTRY

FX

FX

FX

INDEX

STOCKS

STOCKS

Japan

Moringa Capsules

-0.37

-0.58

(.N225)

1.38

1.38

China

-0.27

-0.27

(.SSEC)

-0.35

-0.35

India

0.00

+0.09

(.NSEI)

0.00

1.57

Indonesia

-0.25

-0.35

(.JKSE)

0.51

1.79

Malaysia

-0.22

-0.38

(.KLSE)

-0.75

0.00

Philippines

-0.41

-0.51

(.PSI)

-

-1.14%

S.Korea

-0.20

-0.47

(.KS11)

-0.34

0.04

Singapore

-0.07

-0.40

(.STI)

1.20

1.54

Taiwan

+0.13

+0.29

(.TWII)

0.99

1.28

Thailand

+0.27

+0.27

(.SETI)

0.58

0.58

Reporting by Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.