June 25, 2020 / 4:49 AM / 12 days ago

RPT-EMERGING MARKETS-Philippine peso gains ahead of c.bank, trade fears shake confidence

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    * Graphic: World FX rates tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh
    * Graphic: Foreign flows into Asian stocks tmsnrt.rs/3f2vwbA
    * Philippines central bank likely to stand pat on rates
    * S. Korean shares drop nearly 2%
    * IMF slashes global economic projections

    By Shriya Ramakrishnan
    June 25 (Reuters) - The Philippine peso inched higher on
Thursday, defying a broader selloff in Asian currencies, as
investors bet the country would maintain a relative yield
advantage by keeping interest rates unchanged at its central
bank meeting.
    Stocks and currencies across the region were hit by global
fears of surging coronavirus infections and fresh trade
tensions, pulling money into the dollar and other traditional
safe havens for capital.
    Stock markets of trade-dependent economies such as South
Korea, Singapore and Thailand were the
worst hit, falling between 1.3% and 1.8%.
    South Korean shares and the won also faced
pressure from a new government plan to widen capital gains taxes
for retail investors.
    In the Philippines, the peso gained as much as 0.2%,
while its shares fell nearly 1%.
    Most analysts polled by Reuters expect the central bank to
hold rates at 2.75% and assess the economic impact of three rate
cuts this year, before making a decision on whether to ease
policy further.
    While Philippine equities have seen net outflows every month
this year, the peso is one of the top performing currencies in
Asia's emerging markets with a 1.3% gain against the dollar so
far in 2020. Inflation was averaging 2.5% to the end of May.
    "The central bank's ambition for maintaining positive real
rates is expected to shore up demand in the bond market amid the
global hunt for yields, which in turn should buffer the peso's
appeal," said Han Tan, a market analyst at Cyprus-based trading
and investing firm FXTM.
    A stronger dollar also put the brakes on the Thai baht
 after two consecutive sessions of gains. 
    Thailand's central bank on Wednesday said it would assess
the need for steps to limit further appreciation of the
currency, which is up about 7.4% from April lows.
    "It is notable that THB has so far ignored past measures and
we think it will be a challenge to prevent further
appreciation," TD Securities analysts said in a note. 
    Financial markets in China and Taiwan were closed for
  Asia stock indexes and                                   
 currencies at   0357 GMT                            
                           %        %     X   DAILY   YTD %
 Japan                 -0.16    +1.32  <.N2   -1.30  -5.99
 India     <INR=I       0.00    -5.73  <.NS   -0.68  -15.88
           N>                          EI>           
 Indonesi              -0.07    -1.49  <.JK   -0.81  -21.83
 a                                     SE>           
 Malaysia              +0.00    -4.37  <.KL   -0.69   -6.07
 Philippi              +0.07    +1.26  <.PS   -0.89  -21.51
 nes                                   I>            
 S.Korea   <KRW=K      -0.55    -4.11  <.KS   -1.83   -3.45
           FTC>                        11>           
 Singapor              +0.05    -3.43  <.ST   -1.28  -19.48
 e                                     I>            
 Thailand  <THB=T      -0.29    -3.24  <.SE   -1.59  -16.94
           H>                          TI>           

 (Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam
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