July 20, 2020 / 5:47 AM / in 22 days

EMERGING MARKETS-Rupiah dives as virus cases surge, politics hurt baht

    * Graphic: World FX rates tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh
    * Graphic: Foreign flows into Asian stocks tmsnrt.rs/3f2vwbA
    * Rupiah hits lowest since May 19
    * Baht tumbles to seven-week low

    By Shashwat Awasthi and Pranav A K
    July 20 (Reuters) - Indonesia's rupiah led declines among emerging Asian currencies on
Monday after the country overtook China with the most confirmed coronavirus cases in East Asia,
while the resignation of a fifth cabinet member in five days hit the Thai baht.
    The rupiah lost 0.8% against the dollar to hit a two-month low, while shares
gave up half a percent, as traders worried that the actual infection rate could be even higher.

    Bank Indonesia, which cut interest rates for the fourth time this year last week, on Monday
forecast an economic contraction of between 4% to 4.8% year-on-year for the second quarter,
predicting a "U-shaped" recovery from the pandemic.
    Southeast Asia's largest economy also increased tax incentives for businesses to cushion the
blow from the virus, but analysts were sceptical of its impact.
    "Tax relief for manufacturing workers and SMEs due to expire in September have been extended
till end-year, but likely would not inspire much confidence about the economic recovery,"
analysts from Maybank wrote in a note.
    In Bangkok, the baht fell 0.4% to its lowest since June 1, as Prime Minister Prayuth
Chan-ocha's office said Minister to the Prime Minister's Office Tewan Liptapanlop would quit.

    That followed calls over the weekend for the government to resign and an ongoing delay in
picking a new central bank chief, which have added to the sudden resignation of Finance Minister
Uttama Savanayana last week.
    Bangkok's benchmark stocks index, however, climbed for the second straight session,
adding 0.3%.
    "The news of a fifth cabinet minister resigning had weighed on sentiment... While the index
retains moderate gains into the afternoon, we are looking at a number of defensive sectors
supporting the gains here reflecting the cautious stance," said IG Market Strategist Jingyi Pan.
    Across the rest of the region, stock markets were mixed as investors awaited cues from
Europe and the United States on further fiscal stimulus to counteract the effects of the
pandemic.            
    "Given the worsening pandemic conditions in the U.S. and the lead up to the elections, one
suspects that the next stimulus package could be hastened to provide timely support, although
the size ... would be the question here," said IG Market Strategist Jingyi Pan.
    Philippine stocks, which have been under pressure as virus cases continue to climb,
recouped some recent losses and gained 0.5%.
    
    HIGHLIGHTS:
    
    ** Indonesian 3-year benchmark yields are down 6.5 basis points at 5.962%
    ** Top losers on the Jakarta stock index include Garuda Metalindo Tbk down
6.99%, Inter Delta Tbk down 6.96% and Eka Sari Lorena Transport Tbk down
6.9%
    ** In the Philippines, top index gainers are Metro Pacific Investments up 4.6%,
Ayala Land up 4.57%, Robinsons Land up 2.82%
    
    
  Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0413 GMT                                             
   COUNTRY      FX RIC    FX DAILY %     FX YTD %       INDEX   STOCKS DAILY %  STOCKS YTD %
    Japan                   -0.34          +1.17                     0.10          -3.96
    China                   -0.03          -0.43                     2.62           8.14
    India                   +0.00          -4.85                     0.98          -9.53
  Indonesia                 -0.81          -5.83                    -0.51          -19.77
  Malaysia                  -0.07          -4.08                    -0.01           0.46
 Philippines                -0.07          +2.52                     0.47          -21.72
   S.Korea                  +0.07          -3.98                     0.03           0.19
  Singapore                 -0.09          -3.34                    -0.33          -19.02
   Taiwan                   +0.32          +2.05                    -0.02           1.51
  Thailand                  -0.35          -5.88                     0.26          -13.72
 
 (Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi and Pranav A K in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim Coghill)
  
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