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Markets

Taiwan shares surge nearly 5%, easing dollar supports Asian FX

  • However, stocks markets in the developing economies of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines were broadly lower as worries over the virus and its impact on their economies remain.
18 May 2021

Battered stocks markets in Taiwan and Singapore jumped on Tuesday, shrugging off fears over the impact of renewed coronavirus restrictions, while a weaker US dollar lent support to Asia's emerging currencies.

Taiwan recouped Monday's sharp loss, rising nearly 5% while neighbouring Japan, suffering from its own spike in cases and slow vaccination drive, jumped 2%. Stocks in South Korea and Singapore were also up over 1%.

While much of the Western world begins easing restrictions, things are moving in the opposite direction for parts of Asia as new outbreaks emerge and many struggle to boost vaccinations.

Singapore and Taiwan, hailed for their past success to taming the spread of COVID-19, tightened curbs recently, with their stock markets sliding 4.3% and 10.4% in May as of Monday's close.

So far Singapore has been among the fastest in the region to inoculate its population, while Capital Economics says "Taiwan has plenty of fiscal firepower" and expects support measures to be announced soon.

"Consumer spending will suffer, but the rest of the economy should still perform strongly," the economic research firm said of Taiwan.

The region's currencies, led by the Taiwan and Singapore dollar, largely gained ahead of minutes on Wednesday from the Federal Reserve's most recent meeting, which may give clues about where monetary policy is headed this year.

Comments by Dallas Fed Bank President that he did not expect interest rates to rise until next year reassured markets that the central bank would not tighten early, keeping the dollar lower against most major currencies.

However, stocks markets in the developing economies of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines were broadly lower as worries over the virus and its impact on their economies remain.

The rupiah dipped 0.1%, while benchmark 10-year bond yields edged higher.

Malaysia, which is under a national lockdown, reported its deadliest day on Monday, while fears rise that mass gatherings in Indonesia over Eid could trigger a surge of new cases.

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