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Most Asian FX Edges Up, Thai Baht Hits Week Low on Soft Recovery

  • Baht down to 0.3%, lowest since Feb. 15
  • Indian rupee rallies 0.3% as oil prices ease
  • Singapore stocks dragged lower by OCBC slump

Feb 23 (Reuters) - Most Asian currencies inched up on Wednesday as investors remained cautious about the Russia-Ukraine crisis and rising interest rates, while the Thai baht dropped to a week low on indications its economic recovery is likely to be fragile.

The energy sensitive Indian rupee rallied 0.2%, supported by a pullback in oil prices, as it became clear the first wave of U.S. and European sanctions on Russia for sending troops into eastern Ukraine would not disrupt oil supplies.

The Indonesian rupiah and Philippines' peso gained 0.1% each, but the Thai baht dropped 0.3% to its lowest levels since Feb. 15, leading losses among its peers.

Minutes of Thailand central bank's last policy meeting showed the country's economic recovery in 2022 would remain fragile and uneven.

Analysts at BofA said key risks to Thailand's recovery will come from more variants of the coronavirus, a sustained rise in oil and commodity prices from geopolitical events, a weaker-than-expected Chinese economy, and higher inflation.

"The relative lack of risk-off reaction within the FX space suggests a degree of comfort towards the headlines. If anything, the reaction resembles more of a commodity play than a risk-off play – with commodity currencies continuing to extend," OCBC Bank said in a note.

The Singapore dollar was little moved after data showed the city state's key consumer price gauge rose in January by its fastest pace in nearly a decade.

Singapore stocks slipped about 0.3%, pressured by a record high COVID-19 infections a day earlier, and dragged lower by a drop in OCBC banks's shares.

Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp, Singapore's second-largest listed lender, said on Wednesday it expects overall conditions to improve after it posted a surprise 14% drop in quarterly profit.

Meanwhile, stock markets in South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia and Indonesia were all up between 0.4% and 0.7%.

South Korean shares rose on Wednesday after two straight sessions of losses, helped by institutional buying, although gains were checked by heightening tensions around Ukraine. 

Philippines shares dropped over 1%, while Thailand fell 0.2%.


** India 10-year yields notch near 2-week high earlier in the day

** Top losers on the Singapore STI include: Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation Ltd down 4.26%; Sembcorp Industries Ltd down 3.59%; SATS Ltd down 1.43%

** In the Philippines, top index losers are Ayala Land Inc down 3.29%; Universal Robina Corp down 2.8%; AC Energy Corp down 2.37%

Reporting by Savyata Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Lincoln Feast.

Source: Reuters

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