Stocks rise

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    Most emerging Asian stocks climbed as US stimulus and easing bond yields helped lift the mood, although Philippine stocks struggled on concerns over the country’s economic recovery.

    Global markets received a boost after US President Joe Biden signed a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill into law and as a dovish European Central Bank meeting triggered a retreat in bond yields.

    The Jakarta benchmark added over 1 percent and was poised for its sixth straight weekly gain, while Seoul closed 1.4 percent higher for its biggest weekly jump in five. India and Singapore also eyed gains of over 2 percent for the week.

    A Reuters poll showed Indonesia’s trade surplus likely widened in February from a month earlier on the back of higher commodity prices.

    Recovery concerns have weighed on Philippine equities, which barely budged on Friday and were on track for their biggest weekly drop since January.

    The country has the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Southeast Asia.

    Further denting sentiment, the country’s trade deficit came in at $2.42 billion in January, the widest in 12 months, government data showed.

    “The ongoing slump in imports suggests that growth pains for the Philippines will be around for some time,” ING economist Nicholas Mapa said.

    Tourism-reliant Thai shares fell 0.7 percent after the country delayed the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, citing safety concerns following reports of blood clots in some vaccinated people in Europe.