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Asian FX, Stocks Slip as Russia-Ukraine Tensions Escalate

  • S. Korea, Taiwan and India stocks down about 2%
  • Rupee and baht decline most
  • Gold prices hit near 9-month high

Feb 22 (Reuters) - Asian currencies and stocks fell on Tuesday as escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine battered risk sentiment worldwide and sent investors scurrying to safe-haven assets.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday ordered the deployment of troops to two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine after recognising them as independent, drawing international condemnation and immediate U.S. sanctions against those regions.

While Asia's emerging market is geographically isolated from the Ukraine crisis, a spillover of risks beyond just sanctions may set off an adverse financial contagion, Mizuho analysts said, after Russia's move deepened a crisis that could unleash a major war.

Energy sensitive currencies like the Indian rupee and the Thai baht fared worst in the region, dropping 0.5% each, as oil prices surged on supply disruption woes.

A rise in Thailand's Omicron infections also pressured the baht, setting the currency on course for its biggest percentage drop since Jan. 27.

The South Korean won pared early losses to trade 0.1% lower.

The Indonesian rupiah , the Malaysian ringgit and the Singapore dollar eased between 0.1% and 0.3%.

"Market volatility is likely to stay high as investors continue to trade on headlines and on balance flows are skewed to safe havens because investors may be sceptical about any positive development for now," OCBC analysts said in a note.

In Singapore, analysts said January consumer price data due on Wednesday may boost the country's currency again.

Meanwhile, traditional safe-haven assets the yen and bullion rose 0.2% each, while the U.S. dollar inched up 0.1%.

Emerging Asian stocks fell across the board.

Jakarta and Singapore shares dipped 0.9%, while South Korean shares fell 1.4% to mark their worst session in a week. Taiwan stocks dropped 2%.

Indian shares slipped more than 2%, heading for their fifth straight session of losses.


** Top losers on Singapore's STI include: Yangzijiang Shipbuilding Holdings Ltd, down 2.14%, Singapore Airlines Ltd, down 2.04% and Dairy Farm International Holdings Ltd, down 1.78%

** Philippines shares bucked the trend to gain about 1%, after falling for the past three sessions.

** The blue-chip NSE Nifty 50 index fell 1.59%, while the S&P BSE Sensex was down 1.64%

Reporting by Savyata Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath

Source: Reuters

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