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EMERGING MARKETS-Indonesia's rupiah at near 5-mth low as US bond yields rise

    * Indonesia, Malaysia shares down around 1.5%
    * U.S. dollar on track for best month since 2016
    * China March PMI expands at the quickest pace in three
months

    By Nikhil Nainan
    March 31 (Reuters) - Indonesia's rupiah slid to its weakest
level in nearly five months on Wednesday as rising U.S. bond
yields continued to sap appetite for one of the highest-yielding
emerging markets.
    Stocks in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur fell
around 1.5%, while neighbouring Manila was down 0.8%,
with all three leadings declines across the continent.
    Later on Wednesday U.S. President Joe Biden is set to
outline how he intends to pay for a $3 trillion to 4 trillion
infrastructure plan that could further boost the U.S. recovery
versus the world.
    "The additional spending boost could further support the US
dollar," Mizuho said in a note. 
    The dollar is on track for its best month since 2016
compared with monthly declines set for many in Asia's emerging
currencies, including the rupiah and ringgit. 
    The International Monetary Fund said strong U.S. growth
could help, but may also cause tighter financial conditions and
trigger significant outflows from emerging countries.

    Indonesia's central bank governor in pre-recorded remarks
said the country has ample foreign reserves to ensure the rupiah
is stable. He added that Bank Indonesia does not hesitate to
intervene in the market to defend the rupiah.
    Jakarta's stock market was also set for its worst month
since September last year.
    In Malaysia, stocks suffered their sharpest fall in nearly
three months, falling as much as 1.8%. 
    The central bank said it expects Malaysia's economic growth
in a range of 6% to 7.5% this year, compared with a 5.6%
contraction - its worst since the Asian Financial Crisis in 1998
- in 2020.
    MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside of
Japan, though up on Wednesday, was on track for
its first loss in five months.    
    China's manufacturing activity expanding at its quickest
pace in three months in March did little to support the region.
The yuan, however, edged higher, while Shanghai
stocks fell 0.8%.
    Singapore stocks also dipped, but are headed for
their best month since November.
    Eyes will also be on markets in India as COVID-19 cases rise
sharply. The rupee weakened to a three week low on
Tuesday.
            
    HIGHLIGHTS:
    ** Glove makers Top Glove Corp Bhd and Hartalega
Holdings Bhd led declines in Malaysia
    ** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields rose 6.5 basis points
to 6.859%
    ** Asian countries scramble for vaccine supplies after India
export curbs
 Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0338 GMT
 COUNTRY      FX RIC      FX       FX     INDEX     STOCKS   STOCKS
                          DAILY %  YTD %            DAILY %  YTD %
 Japan                    -0.46    -6.87            -0.79    6.40
 China                    +0.13    -0.54            -0.80    -1.27
 India                    +0.00    -0.43            0.00     6.17
 Indonesia                -0.48    -3.44            -1.49    0.03
 Malaysia                 -0.19    -3.30            -1.60    -2.69
 Philippines              +0.06    -1.07            -0.79    -9.05
 S.Korea                  +0.18    -4.01            0.12     6.97
 Singapore                +0.04    -1.95            -0.07    12.13
 Taiwan                   +0.09    -0.03            -0.70    11.59
 Thailand                 -0.45    -4.53            0.07     9.75
 
 (Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by
Simon Cameron-Moore)
  
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