Malaysia leads regional market losses after emergency declaration

Malaysia declared a state of emergency to curb a sharp rise in coronavirus cases, driving stocks lower for a second day.

Malaysia led losses across Southeast Asian stock markets on Tuesday after a state of emergency was declared in the country to curb the spread of COVID-19, with bank stocks leading the decline.

Malaysia’s main stock index declined as much a 1.6 percent, falling sharply for a second straight session, while other Asian stock markets also tracked overnight losses on Wall Street. South Korean shares were down more than 1 percent.

Malaysia’s King Sultan Abdullah declared a nationwide state of emergency on Tuesday to curb the coronavirus, one day after the country’s prime minister announced a 14-day lockdown in the capital and five states.

CGS-CIMB Securities expects two weeks of restrictions will shave 0.7 of a percentage point off Malaysia’s 2021 growth forecast, estimating daily economic losses of 750 million ringgit ($184.87m).

“Given the risk that the MCO (movement control order) may be extended … additional policy support may be needed to support the economy,” the brokerage said, adding the central bank may discuss an interest rate cut at its monetary policy meeting next week.

The ringgit weakened 0.2 percent, while other emerging currencies in Asia traded in tight ranges. Indonesia’s rupiah dipped 0.5 percent against the dollar, which tracked US Treasury yields higher. Ten-year US yields topped 1 percent last week for the first time since March.

The rupiah is generally favoured by foreign investors seeking to tap Indonesia’s high-yielding debt.

TD Securities expects short-term pressure to continue on the rupiah as US yields rise and inflows into local bond markets temporarily ease.

With 10-year Treasury yields at about 1.15 percent, investors are assessing potential risks to the current environment of easy financial conditions and how that could reset expectations for a range of asset classes. Yields have risen on bets that Democratic politicians will enact big spending packages to drive the economic recovery out the pandemic.

The Taiwanese dollar, which tends to move in wider ranges, strengthened 1.8 percent. Taiwan’s central bank sent inspectors to domestic banks to investigate whether exporters were speculating in foreign currency as the Taiwan dollar soars against the US dollar.

Source : News Agencies

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