EMERGING MARKETS-Thai baht, Malaysian ringgit weaken as virus bites

·3-min read

* Thailand extends lockdown to contain coronavirus spread * China reports slowdown in factory activity * Malaysia stocks drop to more than 9-month trough By Soumyajit Saha Aug 2 (Reuters) - Thailand's baht was on track for its worst session in two weeks on Monday, while Malaysia's ringgit was set to see its worst day in more than a week, as the two Southeast Asian countries continued to battle a surge in coronavirus cases. The baht weakened as much as 0.33% in its worst session since July 19, while the ringgit lost 0.17%. Thailand on Sunday extended tight restrictions in the capital and other high-risk provinces, as it faced COVID-19 outbreaks fuelled by the highly transmissible Alpha and Delta variants. Meanwhile, the country also saw anti-government protesters take to the streets on Sunday to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha over his handling of the coronavirus crisis. In Malaysia, a special parliamentary sitting was cut short after the detection of infections in the building, as the country reported record COVID-19 infections on Saturday. Malaysia's prime minister had faced calls to resign last week after a rare rebuke by the king over the government's handling of emergency ordinances. Economies in Asia "are taking it on the chin in the third quarter," Frederic Neumann, co-head of Asian Economics Research at HSBC, said in a note to clients. "Consumer spending is bound to falter as restrictions bite, and worries over infections is chilling activity more broadly, including investment," Neumann added. Malaysia stocks dropped about 0.5% to their lowest in nearly nine months, while Thai stocks fell to their lowest in almost three months, though shares recuperated slightly later. Elsewhere, China stocks rebounded over 1% following the previous week's more than 4% fall on jitters from a crackdown on the country's private education sector. The world's second-biggest economy reported on Saturday a slowdown in factory activity, as higher raw material costs, equipment maintenance and extreme weather weighed. Investors also expect a slowdown in supply chains across Asia as western economies open up and shift back to services consumption, with pent-up demand fading. In Southeast Asia, Philippine stocks rebounded more than 1%, having dropped over 3% in Friday's session, while Singapore stocks fell 0.3%. HIGHLIGHTS ** Thailand's 10-year government bond yields down 2 basis points at 1.57% ** Indonesian 3-year benchmark yields up 2.1 basis points at 4.413% ** Singapore's 10-year benchmark yield down 1.2 basis points at 1.295% Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0323 GMT COUNTRY FX RIC FX FX INDEX STOCKS STOCKS DAILY YTD % DAILY YTD % % % Japan +0.02 -5.87 1.68 1.09 China -0.07 +0.96 1.05 -1.15 India +0.00 -1.81 0.00 12.74 Indonesia -0.03 -2.94 0.02 1.54 Malaysia -0.14 -4.83 -0.11 -8.25 Philippines -0.12 -4.04 0.78 -11.49 S.Korea -0.22 -5.78 0.24 11.71 Singapore +0.04 -2.40 -0.29 11.03 Taiwan +0.12 +1.97 0.23 17.33 Thailand -0.27 -9.05 -0.29 4.71 (Reporting by Soumyajit Saha in Bengaluru; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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