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Markets

Baht, rupiah under pressure as virus woes support dollar

  • Thai stocks got some respite after eight straight days of losses and advanced 0.4%.
Published June 29, 2021

The Thai baht hit its lowest level in over a year on Tuesday while the Indonesian rupiah fell to an over two-month trough, as growing domestic coronavirus cases and broader concerns about the Delta variant kept the safe-haven US dollar on firm footing.

The greenback hovered just below a two-month high, as investors also awaited a US jobs report slated for Friday that could influence the Federal Reserve's view on stimulus tapering and interest rate hikes.

The baht broke the 32 mark against the dollar for the first time since May 2020, as the country battles its worst coronavirus outbreak, which threatens to pile further pressure on the tourism-reliant economy.

In Indonesia, where virus cases have tripled in the last three weeks, the rupiah traded at its weakest level since April.

"There is a fear of greater disruption due to the spread of the Delta variant... the risk-off mood in the market is benefiting the US dollar and hurting local currencies like the baht," said Sim Moh Siong, a forex strategist with Bank of Singapore.

Thailand's central bank, which has predicted the economy will return to pre-pandemic levels in the first quarter of 2023, said it was considering adjusting the foreign exchange regulatory framework to help the economy better cope with volatility.

Recently beaten down Jakarta stocks, which slumped 1.4% on Monday, gained 0.7% to outperform their peers. President Joko Widodo said on Monday that vaccination for children aged 12-17 could start soon.

Meanwhile, Vietnam stocks hit a record high after data showed the nation's economic growth accelerated in the second quarter of the year and that its trade deficit likely narrowed in June.

Singapore shares fell over 1% after four consecutive sessions of gains, while South Korean stocks declined for a third straight session on concerns the more infectious Delta variant could derail the country's economic recovery.

Thai stocks got some respite after eight straight days of losses and advanced 0.4%.

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