Moringa Capsules

Thai baht holds at two-week low after cenbank status quo - Reuters

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  • Indonesian rupiah scales near 4-week high
  • Singapore dollar, Philippine peso decline
  • Most equity markets eke out small gains

Dec 22 (Reuters) - The Thai baht held steady near a two-week low on Wednesday after the central bank kept its interest rate unchanged as expected, while the Indonesian rupiah scaled its highest in about four weeks on renewed appetite for risk assets.

Other currencies in the region were largely mixed, while stock markets advanced as risk appetite improved heading into year-end, despite rising cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant around the world.

The Thai baht barely moved after the Bank of Thailand (BoT) held its key interest rate at a record low to bolster the tourism-reliant economy. Earlier in the session, the currency eased as much as 0.4% to 33.80 per dollar, its weakest since Dec. 7.

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Analysts at Citi do not expect a rate hike before 2023 on limited inflationary pressures. "The Thai baht could see some negative impact from monetary normalisation in the United States, but risks appear manageable due to Thailand's sound external position," Citi analysts said in a note.

The central bank, however, warned about the Omicron impact and trimmed its 2022 economic growth forecast to 3.4% from 3.9%.

Positive sentiment surrounding the BoT's accommodative stance, along with the government's new stimulus measures, helped Thai equities (.SETI) advance 0.4% in their second straight session of gains.

Indonesia's rupiah , one of the most risk-sensitive currencies in the region, firmed 0.3% to its highest since mid-November. Ten-year benchmark yields edged lower to 6.400%, their lowest in a week.

"In Asia, most currencies including the rupiah, ringgit, Singapore dollar, Chinese yuan and Indian rupee benefited from a return in risk appetite," Mizuho Bank analysts said.

Analysts at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group expect the rupiah to weather the U.S. Federal Reserve's policy normalisation, assuming no material impact from the Omicron variant. They expect the currency to reach 14,000 per dollar by end-2022.

Elsewhere, the South Korean won firmed slightly after softening for two straight days. The Malaysian ringgit and Singapore's dollar eased, while the Philippine peso fell 0.4%.

Most equity markets traded in positive territory, with India's Nifty 50 (.NSEI) advancing 0.6% after a 1% gain in the previous session, while Malaysia (.KLSE) and Indonesia (.JKSE) added about 0.3% each.

Singapore shares (.STI) pared gains as the city-state looks to freeze the sale of tickets for arriving flights and buses under its quarantine-free travel programme for four weeks. read more

HIGHLIGHTS:

** Indian 10-year benchmark yields edge lower to 6.464%, but hover near 20-month high

** Malaysia suspends ticket sales for quarantine-free travel to Singapore

** Sony, Zee lock India merger to create mega TV network - read more

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Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0713 GMT

COUNTRY

FX RIC

FX DAILY %

FX YTD %

INDEX

STOCKS DAILY %

STOCKS YTD %

Japan

Moringa Capsules

-0.06

-9.56

(.N225)

0.16

4.07

China

+0.01

+2.47

(.SSEC)

-0.05

4.32

India

+0.04

-3.32

(.NSEI)

0.68

20.76

Indonesia

+0.23

-1.68

(.JKSE)

-0.02

9.60

Malaysia

-0.05

-4.49

(.KLSE)

0.42

-7.89

Philippines

-0.40

-4.23

(.PSI)

-0.67

-0.29

S.Korea

+0.08

-8.88

(.KS11)

0.32

3.86

Singapore

-0.15

-3.30

(.STI)

-0.02

8.46

Taiwan

+0.04

+2.41

(.TWII)

0.21

21.00

Thailand

-0.38

-11.36

(.SETI)

0.38

12.35

Reporting by Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.