May 11, 2020 / 6:38 AM / 16 days ago

EM ASIA FX-Most currencies gain as more countries ease lockdown measures

    * Taiwan dollar leads gains 
    * INR drops after govt ramps up borrowing
    * China cenbank cuts April short-term loan rates
    * S. Korea reports jump in new virus cases
    * Malaysia market closed for public holiday

 (Adds text, updates prices)
    By Anushka Trivedi
    May 11 (Reuters) - Most emerging Asian currencies firmed on
Monday, with the Taiwan dollar leading the pack, as more
countries moved towards easing coronavirus-related restrictions
even though the threat of a new wave of infections loomed.
    South Korea, which was lauded for its quick action on the
pandemic, reported 69 cases over the weekend, most linked to an
outbreak at a number of Seoul nightclubs and bars which
authorities fear could turn into another major cluster of
infections.
    The won, however, shrugged off the news and
firmed as much as 0.5% to a four-week high, in tandem with its
peers.
    "With lockdowns being eased across Europe and Australasia,
as well as the U.S., and the rate of people dying falling in
many countries, markets will likely ignore the threat of
COVID-19 part two, staying with the momentum of the peak-virus
trade," wrote Jeffery Halley, senior market analyst, Asia
Pacific at OANDA.
    Countries wrecked by the virus such as Spain and England
announced preparations for a phased easing of lockdown measures
as death tolls declined. Some Asia-Pacific nations, which have
relatively smaller number of cases than European countries, took
similar steps as well.
    Despite a stronger greenback, regional currencies like the
Taiwan dollar advanced 0.3%, while the Philippine peso
 and the Thai baht gained 0.2% each.
    Also boosting investor sentiment were the Chinese central
bank's lowering of short-term loan interest rates for April and
promise on Sunday to unleash measures to support the economy.

    However, the yuan eased 0.1% against the dollar.
    Meanwhile, Wuhan, the epicentre of the new coronavirus
outbreak in China, reported its first cluster of infections
since the lockdown was lifted a month ago.
    The Indonesian rupiah swung between positive and
negative territories before trading little changed. 
    Southeast Asia's biggest economy is considering plans for a
phased resumption of businesses as early as June 1 but the
reopening proposals came amid mounting criticism for being slow
to respond to the outbreak.  
    The Malaysian ringgit did not trade on account of a
public holiday.
    
    INDIAN RUPEE  
    The Indian rupee weakened 0.2% after the government
said late on Friday that it would sharply increase market
borrowing in the fiscal year to March 2021 to cushion the blow
from the pandemic.
    Goldman Sachs analysts predict the government might have
already missed its budgeted fiscal deficit target in 2020 and
may see a steeper rise in bond supply next year.
    "We expect supply-demand dynamics to be unfavourable in
2021, unless the central bank decides to play a larger role,"
they said.
    India has been in a lockdown for eight weeks, causing
massive losses to an already-ailing economy and prompting
Moody's to forecast 0% growth for this year. Markets now await a
second stimulus package from the government.
    
    
The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against the
dollar at 0530 GMT.
    CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR
  Currency                 Latest bid  Previous day   Pct Move
  Japan yen                106.930           106.65      -0.26
  Sing dlr                 1.413             1.4125      +0.00
  Taiwan dlr               29.825            29.902      +0.26
  Korean won               1218.800          1219.9      +0.09
  Baht                     32.170             32.24      +0.22
  Peso                     50.310             50.39      +0.16
  Rupiah                   14890.000          14890      +0.00
  Rupee                    75.700             75.54      -0.21
  Yuan                     7.083             7.0749      -0.11
                                                              
  Change so far in 2020                                       
  Currency                 Latest bid  End 2019       Pct Move
  Japan yen                106.930           108.61      +1.57
  Sing dlr                 1.413             1.3444      -4.82
  Taiwan dlr               29.825            30.106      +0.94
  Korean won               1218.800         1156.40      -5.12
  Baht                     32.170             29.91      -7.03
  Peso                     50.310             50.65      +0.68
  Rupiah                   14890.000          13880      -6.78
  Rupee                    75.700             71.38      -5.71
  Yuan                     7.083             6.9632      -1.69
 

($1 = 75.6400 Indian rupees)

 (Reporting by Anushka Trivedi in Bengaluru; Editing by
Subhranshu Sahu)
  
 
 
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