Asian currencies, stocks underpinned by China's quarantine ease

Most emerging Asian currencies were trading in green on Tuesday against a relatively weaker U.S. dollar, coming off from an extended Christmas holiday, as risk sentiment improved after China eased COVID-19 quarantine restrictions.

The South Korean won KRW=KFTC gained the most, rising about 0.7% to hit its highest since June 10.

China, Asia's largest economy, said it will stop requiring inbound travellers to go into quarantine from Jan. 8 in addition to downgrading the seriousness of COVID-19 as it has become less virulent, leading to hopes of economic growth picking up faster.

Beijing has borne the brunt of harsh coronavirus curbs since the onset of the pandemic in 2020, which has battered economic activity and global supply chains due to frequent lockdowns.
Both the Chinese yuan CNY=CFXS and benchmark share price index .SSEC firmed 0.1% and 0.8%.

Other Asian units such as the Singapore dollar SGD=, Thai baht THB=TH Malaysian ringgit MYR= also gained 0.1% each.

The Singapore dollar is the only Asian currency to have logged positive growth on a year-to-date basis.

"We have seen a bit of firming up of Asian currencies, due to the reopening in China," said FX strategist Moh Siong Sim at the Bank of Singapore. "We are getting better clarity on the endpoint in terms of the reopening and I think we're moving in the right direction in the medium term."

Meanwhile, investor sentiment was also aided by a softer-than-expected reading of the Personal Consumption Expenditures index in the United States on Friday, prompting expectations that the U.S. central bank will start dialling down its aggressive policy interest rate hike path.

However, some caution still prevailed as analysts said there was more work to do to bring inflation down due to a resilient labour market.
At 0354 GMT, the dollar index =USD, which measures the strength of the greenback against six major currencies, was at 104.13.

Among Asian stocks, Indonesian equities .JKSE rose the most, gaining 1%, while others such as Taiwan .TWII, Thailand .SETI and the Philippines .PSI firmed between 0.2% and 0.7%.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was up 0.5%.

U.S. markets were closed on Monday on account of Christmas.

HIGHLIGHTS:

** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields fall to 6.909%

** China revises 2021 GDP growth to 8.4% from 8.1% - Reuters

** Top gainers in Singapore's benchmark include Mapletree Logistics Trust MAPL.SI, up 1.9%, and SATS SATS.SI, up 1%

Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0354 GMT
COUNTRY
FX RIC
FX DAILY %
FX YTD %
INDEX
STOCKS DAILY %
STOCKS YTD %

Japan
JPY=
-0.04
-13.42

.N225
#VALUE!
#VALUE!

China

CNY=CFXS
+0.02
-8.72

.SSEC
0.78
-15.12

India

INR=IN
-0.08
-10.13

.NSEI
0.42
4.24

Indonesia

IDR=
-0.16
-8.97

.JKSE
1.01
4.92

Malaysia

MYR=
+0.09
-5.75

.KLSE
0.00
-5.92

Philippines

PHP=
-0.40
-7.96

.PSI
0.34
-7.85

S.Korea

KRW=KFTC
+0.62
-6.17

.KS11
0.43
-21.85

Singapore

SGD=
+0.17
+0.28

.STI
0.44
4.75

Taiwan

TWD=TP
+0.06
-9.78

.TWII
0.70
-21.05

Thailand

THB=TH
+0.07
-3.65

.SETI
0.59
-1.28

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