Asia marts end lower


    South Korea and Thailand led Asia’s emerging stock markets lower as investors looked to the implementation of the $1.9 trillion of US fiscal stimulus, while Taiwan’s dollar advanced even as the central bank tried to rein it in.

    Asian shares fell further by early afternoon with Indonesia and Thailand down around 1 percent and South Korea shedding 2 percent.

    The economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and concerns around implementation of US President-elect Joe Biden’s proposed package tempered global recovery hopes.

    China reported the highest number of daily COVID-19 cases in more than 10 months, with millions under lockdown, while details of US aid did not stray from what was expected and doubts emerged over how the package would be pushed through.

    “The ongoing success of the reflation narrative will depend on President-Elect Biden’s ability to push his relief bill through Congress, and on a continued scaling up of the vaccination program,” analysts at ANZ said.

    Markets are “heavily positioned for success all round” and “there is little room for any disappointment,” ANZ added.

    Thai shares fell further as the country’s central bank cautioned that the new wave of coronavirus cases could lead to a cut in growth forecast as outlook remained uncertain.

    In Taiwan, the local dollar gained 1.7 percent.

    Since early December, the currency has appreciated 2.5 percent, posing a worry for the central bank that has been trying to balance between intervening too heavily in the market to avoid being labeled as a currency manipulator by the United States and keeping the unit competitive.

    Taiwan relies heavily on electronics exports and the central bank is asking major exporters to spread out sales of foreign currency as a way to stem the local dollar’s gains.