Thai baht leads declines among weak Asian currencies



*

Most Asian currencies drop

*

Thai baht weakens 0.9%

*

Asian equities broadly higher

By Upasana Singh

Sept 29 (Reuters) - Most Asian emerging currencies slipped on Thursday, dragged by a strong dollar, with the baht leading losses following a recent rate hike that market participants say was not enough to fight Thailand's 14-year high inflation levels.

The baht, which has lost about 12% this year, weakened 0.9%.

The Bank of Thailand (BOT), among Asia's least hawkish banks, raised its key interest rate for the second straight time on Wednesday, lifting it by a quarter point as expected.

"Relative to the local inflation rate, the BOT policy rate has done very little to close the gap and lessen the negativity of real policy rates," said Robert Carnell, regional head of research Asia Pacific at ING.

The hike "is a drop in the ocean compared to what they need to do just to move real policy rates to zero", he added.

The BOT chief has said the bank is ready to adjust the pace of tightening monetary policy if needed and would be prepared to hold an off-cycle meeting if necessary.

Meanwhile, the U.S. dollar's rally on the back of an ever more hawkish stance by the Federal Reserve weighed on Asian emerging currencies.

The dollar index =USD , which measures the greenback against a basket of six currencies, rose 0.2% to 113.26, after touching a 20-year high of 114.78 on Wednesday.

Stabilisation efforts from policymakers around the world, including Bank of England's (BoE) recent move, can help to restore market confidence and provide a temporary breather for risk assets, said Christopher Wong, FX strategist at OCBC.

The BoE on Wednesday said it will buy as much as £5 billion ($5.40 billion) a day of long-dated government bonds until Oct. 14. Its move comes as unfunded tax cuts announced in Britain last week triggered a financial chaos across global markets.

"The strong USD trend still need to dissipate for currency markets to take a more meaningful breather," said Wong.

Malaysia's ringgit MYR= and the Philippine peso PHP= slipped 0.3% each. The Singapore dollar SGD= weakened 0.4%.

However, South Korea's won KRW=KFTC and Indonesia's rupiah IDR= firmed 0.3% and 0.1%, respectively.

Equities in Southeast Asia were broadly higher, with Philippine's benchmark index .PSI rising 1.6% and leading gains. Stocks in South Korea .KS11 and Singapore .STI advanced 1.1% each.

Thailand's benchmark index .SETI added 0.6%, while equities in Jakarta .JKSE were the only outlier in the region as they shed 0.4%.

HIGHLIGHTS:

** South Korean President Yoon promises to deal with economic shocks

** India forex reserves set to shrink further, stir memories of 2008 crisis - according to a Reuters poll

** Indonesia president sees Q3 GDP growth at 5.4%-6%

The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against the dollar at 0339 GMT. COUNTRY

FX RIC

FX DAILY % FX YTD %

INDEX STOCKS DAILY % STOCKS YTD % Japan

JPY=

-0.17

-20.31 .N225

+0.25

-8.87 China

CNY=CFXS

+0.14

-11.64 .SSEC

0.42

-15.99 India

INR=IN

+0.41

-8.91 .NSEI

0.00

-2.85 Indonesia

IDR=

+0.11

-6.51 .JKSE

-0.42

7.08 Malaysia

MYR=

-0.34

-10.34 .KLSE

0.21

-10.38 Philippines PHP=

-0.34

-13.50 .PSI

1.56

-16.16 S.Korea

KRW=KFTC

+0.34

-17.16 .KS11

1.06

-26.38 Singapore

SGD=

-0.36

-6.27 .STI

1.10

0.86 Taiwan

TWD=TP

+0.07

-13.06 .TWII

0.06

-26.04 Thailand

THB=TH

-0.92

-12.29 .SETI

0.56

-2.99 ($1 = 0.9258 pounds)
Reporting by Upasana Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Himani Sarkar

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