EMERGING MARKETS-New COVID-19 curbs pile pressure on Indonesia stocks, rupiah

    * Trading halted in Jakarta after stocks hit circuit breaker
    * Malaysia policy decision at 0700 GMT
    * Slim majority in Reuters poll expect a cut

    By Nikhil Nainan
    Sept 10 (Reuters) - Indonesian stocks plunged 5% on
Thursday, prompting an automatic pause in trading, and the
central bank intervened to steady the rupiah after the
authorities reimposed restrictions in the capital Jakarta to
stem rising COVID-19 cases.
    The fall in Jakarta was the biggest since March and
came in contrast to most other emerging markets in Asia, which
were back in positive territory after a halt in the slide in
U.S. stocks overnight. Seoul shares were up 0.9%.
    Markets in Southeast Asia's most populous state have been
struggling for two weeks due to concerns over the outbreak,
growth and government moves to use the central bank to help with
bond market funding.
    The rupiah has retreated around 1.5% since a
parliamentary panel at the end of August recommended sweeping
changes to Bank Indonesia's institutional setup that would give
ministers more say.
    "This is an unexpected turn of events," Trimegah Securities
said of the restrictions in a note, saying the downside on the
stock index could be limited to around 10% as companies are
likely better prepared after the first lockdown.
    Trading was halted for 30 minutes after the index fell 5%.
    The Indonesian capital will reinstate social restrictions
similar to those used between April and June from Monday, with
its governor pointing to the strain on its healthcare system as
infections averaged 1,000 a day this month.
    Malaysian stocks fell 0.7% ahead of an interest rate
decision that has economists split down the middle, a slim
majority in a Reuters poll published this week predict a 25
basis points cut to a record 1.5%.
    Like much of the region's central banks, Bank Negara
Malaysia has already cut rates by 125 bps this year, seeking to
ease the coronavirus' impact on growth.
    Maybank analysts, who expect no change, argued BNM may look
"to preserve monetary policy space amid the on-going rollout of
economic stimulus and recovery measures"
    The ringgit inched up 0.1%. 
    OCBC, on the other hand, expect a 25 bps cut, and said BNM
may be tempted to squeeze in an insurance cut ahead of the
upcoming expiry of an emergency moratorium on loan repayments. 
     Another key policy meeting on the cards is in Europe where
the ECB is expected to stand pat, though commentary on the
euro's recent strength will be of interest, as Asian currencies
have benefited from months of dollar weakness. 
    Most emerging currencies in Asia were flat to slightly
higher, while the rupiah fell just 0.1%.
 
    HIGHLIGHTS:
    ** Indonesian 3-year benchmark yields down 2.5 basis points
to 4.959%
    ** Malaysia's 3-year benchmark yield down 0.5 basis points
to 1.846%
    ** Top losers on the Jakarta stock index include
Integra Indocabinet Tbk PT, Panorama Sentrawisata Tbk
PT and Phapros Tbk PT     
            Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0348 GMT
 COUNTRY      FX RIC      FX       FX      INDEX    STOCKS   STOCKS
                          DAILY %  YTD %            DAILY %  YTD %
 Japan                      +0.08   +2.38              0.52   -2.13
 China                      -0.10   +1.82              0.29    7.02
 India                      +0.00   -2.92              0.00   -7.32
 Indonesia                  -0.07   -6.15             -5.00  -22.35
 Malaysia                   +0.14   -1.78             -0.65   -6.41
 Philippines                +0.08   +4.30              0.18  -23.95
 S.Korea                    +0.29   -2.47              0.94    9.12
 Singapore                  -0.06   -1.66             -0.24  -22.64
 Taiwan                     +0.82   +2.79              0.67    5.80
 Thailand                   +0.32   -4.38              0.06  -18.08
 
 (Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; editing by
Patrick Graham and Kim Coghill)
  

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