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EMERGING MARKETS-Indonesia's rupiah drops ahead of rate decision, Asia stocks fall

    * Graphic: World FX rates tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh
    * Indonesia, Philippine central bank expected to stay on
hold
    * Some see room for 25 bps rate cut given recent rupiah
gains 
    * South Korea, Thai central bank intervene to stem currency
gains

    Nov 19 (Reuters) - Indonesia's rupiah fell half a percent on
Thursday as markets toyed with the possibility of a surprise
rate cut given its recent strength, while Asian stock markets
faced downward pressure as COVID-19 cases and restrictions grow.
    Malaysia led declines in Asia's emerging equity
markets, falling 1%, while Singapore and South Korea
 each fell 0.5%, tracking a late sell-off on Wall Street
as the United States struggles to keep a lid on infections.
    Economists by and large expect Bank Indonesia to keep rates
unchanged at 4% later in the day. However, the rupiah has
gained over 3% this month alone and some see this as a potential
trigger for a interest rate cut.
    "Market expectations are mixed heading into today's Bank
Indonesia rate decision, divided between a pause and 25bp cut,"
DBS analysts wrote in a note.
    The yield on Indonesia's 10-year bonds rose 1.6
basis points to 6.197% on Thursday, but has fallen sharply since
the U.S. election week. Yields rise as bond prices fall.
    Indonesia's high-yielding bonds are a favourite of foreign
investors.
    The Philippine central bank is also expected to keep rates
on hold at its meeting later, with the peso little
changed. Stocks in Manila fell 0.6%.
    Broadly, currencies in the region were weaker, while South
Korea's won slid 1% against the dollar after the
government said it was taking action with stabilise the
currency. 
    Dealers told Reuters the central bank was suspected of
buying dollars on Thursday to stem gains for a currency that has
gained nearly 3% this month to Wednesday.
    Fresh from Wednesday's warning of the Thai baht's
strength and its impact on exports, the central bank said it had
intervened in the market. The currency dipped 0.1%.
    Recent vaccine news from Pfizer and Moderna
, while triggering initial market boosts, have done
little to assuage investors' concerns that the new wave of
COVID-19 cases would dent any momentum for a global economic
recovery.
    DBS analysts said emerging Asian currencies are unlikely to
be spared from traders looking to cover their shorts, as
"investors have found it increasingly difficult to extend the
euphoria from the US elections and vaccine hopes."
    
    HIGHLIGHTS:
    ** Indonesian 3-year benchmark yields fell 1.7 basis points
to 4.908%
    ** Hong Leong Bank Bhd and Public Bank Bhd
 led losses in Malaysian financials 
    ** Resurgent IDR opens window for Bank Indonesia rate cut

            Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0342 GMT
 COUNTRY       FX RIC      FX       FX      INDEX    STOCKS   STOCKS
                           DAILY %  YTD %            DAILY %  YTD %
 Japan                     +0.08    +4.68            -0.63    8.08
 China                     -0.05    +6.11            0.06     9.81
 India                     +0.00    -3.79            0.00     6.33
 Indonesia                 -0.50    -1.70            0.32     -11.50
 Malaysia                  -0.22    -0.12            -0.97    0.03
 Philippines               -0.05    +4.94            -0.59    -10.30
 S.Korea                   -0.97    +3.75            -0.54    15.20
 Singapore                 -0.10    +0.08            -0.46    -13.88
 Taiwan                    +0.89    +5.62            -0.50    14.23
 Thailand                  -0.13    -1.42            0.58     -13.12
 
 (Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim
Coghill)
  
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