U.S. dollar edges higher after Trump tests positive
Malaysia stocks set to snap two straight weeks of gains
Palm oil stocks in Malaysia stage minor rebound
India, China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan on holiday
Oct 2 (Reuters) – Southeast Asia’s currencies eased on Friday with investors seeking safety in the U.S. dollar after U.S. President Donald Trump tested positive for COVID-19, while hopes for further U.S. stimulus also waned.
Trump said he and First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive for COVID-19 and would immediately quarantine and begin the “recovery process.”
The positive result raises the level of uncertainty ahead of the U.S. elections in November.
Appetite for riskier stocks was also overshadowed by concerns that a plan to provide more relief to the U.S. economy during the coronavirus outbreak would stall in the Senate, after being approved by the U.S. House of Representatives.
Stocks shed 0.9% in Singapore .STI and 0.7% in Jakarta .JKSEwhile stocks in Malaysia .KLSE and the Philippines .PSI edged higher.
Currencies in the region were largely weaker against the dollar =USD, with the rupiah IDR=, ringgit MYR= and Singapore dollar SGD= all down around 0.2% versus the greenback.
“It is prime time now for (the) U.S. election,” said Jingyi Pan, a senior market strategist at IG.
“Should the President be absent during this period, that could mean even more complications with the election.”
Trading volumes were thin in Asia with a host of places on holiday this Friday including, India, China, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
FGV Holdings FGVH.KL and other Malaysian palm oil producers rose on Friday after falling sharply in the previous session, when the United States blocked the entry of FGV’s palm oil products into the country over allegations of forced labour. Malaysia said it expected the United States to ban the imports of another plantation firm.
Sime Darby Plantation SIPL.KL also flagged concern on Friday about a possible ban. Its shares, however, were up after falling more than 5% on Thursday.
Markets across the region, barring Thailand .SETI and Malaysia, were slated to post weekly gains and the Philippines .PSI is set to snap two straight weeks of losses.
The Philippine central bank kept rates unchanged on Thursday as expected as it waits for prior monetary stimulus to filter through the economy, but approved $11 billion in funds for the government.
Many analysts still expect a cut in the fourth quarter, with Goldman Sachs saying further COVID-19 curbs in the capital Manila is hurting third quarter growth outlook.
** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields are down 1.2 basis points at 6.924%
** Malaysia expects U.S. import ban on second plantation firm, after FGV barred
** Malaysia risks investment trouble as political drama drags on
Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0534 GMT
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(Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)
(([email protected]; Twitter: @NikhilKurianN; +91 806 182 2724;))
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