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Asian Stocks, FX Tumble as Russia Attacks Ukraine

  • Singapore shares track worst day since May 14
  • India shares down 3.6%
  • Gold highest since Jan. 2021, oil breaches $100

Feb 24 (Reuters) - Asian currencies and stocks were battered on Thursday with shares in Singapore and India losing about 3% as Russian attacks on Ukraine spoiled investors appetite for risk.

Russian forces fired missiles at several Ukrainian cities and landed troops on its south coast on Thursday, officials and media said, after President Vladimir Putin authorised what he called a special military operation in the east.

The Moscow Exchange said on Thursday morning it had suspended trading on all markets while the rouble fell to a record low. 

Singapore shares slumped up to 2.9% for the third straight session, logging their sharpest drop since May 14, while Indian shares weakened for a seventh consecutive session, falling 3% to a two-month low.

Singapore was dragged lower by a 3% slump in its financial stocks, with Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp extending losses after reporting a 14% drop in quarterly profit. 

Philippines and South Korean shares also weakened by 2.2% and 2.8% respectively.

"The escalation is likely to send EM inflation higher in coming months, we think, mainly by pushing up commodity prices. Higher commodity prices are likely to affect big net importers such as Thailand and India," Sid Mathur, head of emerging markets research for APAC, BNP Paribas

"For EM currencies, we expect the negative impact on risk sentiment to outweigh any positive commodity price impact," he added.

The conflict in Ukraine helped drive safe-haven bids for the greenback , while gold prices rose by over 2%.

"Risk-off sentiment overall is rising, and we expect it to grow further if Russia makes further inroads into Ukraine, led primarily by the result of higher energy prices. Overall, we expect markets to remain volatile in the near term," an OCBC note said.

The dollar's strength and rocketing oil prices hurt emerging market currencies, with the commodity-linked Indian rupee leading declines, easing 0.8% while the Thai baht was down 0.5%.

Thailand reported a record number of new COVID-19 infections on Thursday, dragging its shares down by up to 1.7%, its biggest percentage drop since Dec. 20. 

South Korea's won was also down 0.8%, its sharpest decline since Dec 20, while Philippines peso fell 0.6%.

South Korean stocks opened steeply lower Thursday, tracking overnight plunges on Wall Street that stemmed from rising tensions in Ukraine.


** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields are up 1.79 basis points at 6.519%​​

** Top losers on the Singapore STI include: SATS down 4.78%; Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation down 4.7%; United Overseas Bank Ltd down 4.08%

Reporting by Savyata Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

Source: Reuters

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