* Graphic: Asia current accounts tmsnrt.rs/3kNEAn5 
    * Thai measures to contain the baht's rise seen to be not
aggressive enough
    * Indonesia, Philippine central banks cut rates on Thursday

    By Nikhil Nainan
    Nov 20 (Reuters) - Philippine shares led emerging Asian
markets on Friday, surging 2.5% after the country's central bank
delivered a surprise cut in interest rates to shore up a
domestic economy struggling after months of on-off coronavirus
restrictions.
    The region's foreign exchange markets were largely higher,
with new steps from the Bank of Thailand to stem gains for the
baht seeing little success. The currency rose almost
half a percent in morning trade.
    Equity markets across Asia were up across the board, with
Singapore gaining over 1%, as an improved global mood and
the region's relative success in controlling the COVID-19
pandemic encourages investment.
    Most of the region's emerging stock markets were set to post
weekly gains of around 2%.
    The Philippine central bank fuelled gains in Manila by
cutting another 25 basis points off its main interest rates on
Thursday, bringing them to a new low of 2.0%.
    "Loose monetary policy could be good for stock valuations
and could drive a further rally for local bond yields," said
Jennifer Lomboy, a fixed income fund manager at First Metro
Asset in Manila.
    The Philippine stock index hit its highest since
late-February, while the peso edged 0.2% higher.
    Analysts and investors were unimpressed with the Thai
central bank's announcement of easier rules for investing in
foreign currencies and securities, its latest move to try and
halt the baht's rise. 
    The bank, which held off on an outright cut in interest
rates on Wednesday, has warned again of the damage the baht's
strength can do the economy after a more than 3% jump in the
currency this month.
    "The measures seem to be more of the same old, same old,
which is to encourage outflows," Kobsidthi Silpachai, the head
of capital markets research at Kasikornbank said, arguing that
the heart of the problem is high taxation. 
    "Since excise taxes on imported goods are high, it
suppresses imports, which makes the current account surplus even
higher, which leads to a strong baht," he said. "We have seen
many years of monetary measures... we need to try fiscal
measures like tax reforms."
    Bank Indonesia also surprised by cutting rates this week, by
25 basis points to 3.75%, dimming the appeal of its
high-yielding local bond market.
    The central bank governor said the rupiah, which dipped 0.2%
on Friday, was still undervalued. The currency has been one of
the outperformers among the region's emerging markets, climbing
over 3% this month.
    "We expect a possible rate cut in the near-term for as long
as the rupiah remains on its current appreciation bias," said
Nicholas Mapa, a senior economist at ING.
    
    HIGHLIGHTS: 
    ** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields up 1.9 basis points
at 6.197%
    ** Top index gainers in the Philippines are San Miguel Corp
, GT Capital Holdings Inc and BDO Unibank Inc
  
     
           Asia stock indexes and currencies at   0715 GMT
 COUNTRY      FX RIC      FX       FX      INDEX    STOCKS   STOCKS
                          DAILY %  YTD %            DAILY %  YTD %
 Japan                    -0.06    +4.65            -0.42    7.91
 China                    +0.16    +5.94            0.44     10.75
 India                    +0.16    -3.73            0.08     5.04
 Indonesia                -0.21    -2.05            -0.36    -11.52
 Malaysia                 +0.27    +0.05            0.72     0.40
 Philippines              +0.15    +4.97            2.46     -8.26
 S.Korea                  +0.12    +3.78            0.24     16.19
 Singapore                +0.09    +0.08            1.03     -12.95
 Taiwan                   +1.06    +5.58            -0.04    14.33
 Thailand                 +0.36    -1.25            0.64     -12.76
        

    
 (Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam
Holmes and Uttaresh.V)
  



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