By Shashwat Awasthi
June 18 (Reuters) – Indonesian stocks slid nearly 2% and the rupiah weakened on Friday as surging COVID-19 cases sapped risk appetite and squashed hopes that the central bank’s accommodative stance would allow equity markets to recover.
South Korea’s won KRW=KFTC fell for the fifth consecutive day in its worst week since March 2020, while other regional currencies were mixed, as investors further digested the U.S. Federal Reserve’s hawkish signals this week.
Jakarta’s equity index .JKSE shed as much as 1.9% and was set for its first weekly drop in four after Indonesia on Thursday reported its biggest daily rise in coronavirus cases since late-January.
Yields on Indonesia’s 10-year benchmark bonds ID10YT=RR climbed 8.5 basis points to a two-month high.
“New COVID-19 infections are rising rapidly again… Hospital occupancy rates have surpassed 75% in the capital, Jakarta, raising the prospect that restrictions will need to be tightened,” said Gareth Leather, senior Asia economist at Capital Economics.
The rupiah IDR= weakened for the fifth straight session and was on track to lose 1% this week as Bank Indonesia’s dovish stance and the Fed’s indication of raising rates earlier than expected heaped pressure on the currency.
Further complicating matters was news that hundreds of doctors and medical workers in Indonesia had been infected despite being inoculated, while analysts have also highlighted the slow pace of vaccinations.
The U.S. Fed’s sudden turn on Wednesday prompted Morgan Stanley analysts to recommend cashing out of long positions in many Asian currencies, including the rupiah and the Malaysian ringgit MYR=, as their appeal for carry trade was dented.
“The most important reason why we have been recommending carry trades in Asia was a patient/dovish Fed… Now the conditions have changed materially on the back of a hawkish surprise from the Fed,” they said in a note.
Riskier currencies, such as those of emerging markets, thrive on U.S. interest rates remaining low because they benefit from the interest rate differential that increases their appeal for carry trade.
Philippine shares .PSI continued to unwind some of the more than 11% gain accumulated in recent weeks and fell half a percent.
** Top losers on the Jakarta stock index include Prima Globalindo Logistik PPGl.JK down 8.5%, MegaPower Makmur MPOW.JK and Bank IBK Indonesia AGRS.BK down 7%.
** In the Philippines, top losers are BDO Unibank BDO.PS down 2.8%, LT Group LTG.PS down 2.7%, and SM Prime Holdings SMPH.PS down 2.6%.
Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0615 GMT
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Indonesia’s 10-year bond yields hit 2-mth highhttps://tmsnrt.rs/3q837I4
(Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; Editing by Sujata Rao and Shailesh Kuber)
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