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EMERGING MARKETS-Thai stocks, baht slump as new virus cluster threatens economic growth

    * Lockdown near Bangkok sparks selloff in Thai markets
    * New strain of coronavirus in UK weighs on sentiment
    * China stocks buck trend, rise 0.6%

    By Anushka Trivedi
    Dec 21 (Reuters) - Thailand's stocks and baht led losses in
Asian emerging markets on Monday after coronavirus curbs in a
key export hub near Bangkok were extended following a record
number of cases in the country, reviving fears of an economic
slowdown.
    A seafood industry centre that is home to thousands of
migrant workers, Samut Sakhon will stay locked down until Jan. 3
after an outbreak at a shrimp market over the weekend, leading
Thailand to report more than 500 cases of coronavirus.

    Thai equities slid 3.7% and the baht fell
almost 1% due to the economy's heavy dependence on trade and
tourism, and both were headed for their worst sessions in many
months.
    "The selloff is because of the news of the lockdown in the
province near Bangkok," said Peerapan Suwannarat, senior market
and economic research specialist at Kasikornbank.
    Phillip Securities analysts in a note to clients said the
lockdown could take a toll on Samut Sakorn's processed seafood,
cold storage, packaging and fishing industries, major sources of
revenue for the region, and dampen confidence of both local and
foreign investors.    
    The surge in cases comes as Thailand attempts to revive a
tourist industry devastated by the pandemic. Only last week, it
had eased restrictions to allow more foreign tourists to return.

    Other Asian currencies also buckled as investors sought the
safety of the dollar on news that a new coronavirus
strain had led to a tougher lockdown in the United Kingdom.

    The South Korean won and the Singapore dollar
 fell about 0.3% each, while the Taiwanese dollar
was the only exception, moving up 1.3%.
     Most Asian equity markets slipped, including Manila
and Kuala Lumpur, although the Shanghai index
added 0.6%.
    China, the region's economic powerhouse, reiterated that it
would avoid any sudden shifts in policy in a bid to keep
economic growth within a reasonable range in 2021, the Xinhua
news agency said on Friday after a meeting of top leaders ended.


    HIGHLIGHTS
    
    ** Thailand's 10-year government bond yields are up about
4.30 basis points at 1.22%
    ** Top losers on Thailand's SETI include Nok
Airlines PCL down 14.67% and Nirvana Daii PCL
down 12.9% 
    ** Top gainers on the Jakarta stock index include
Lotte Chemical Titan Tbk PT up 34.6% and Bank
Pembangunan Daerah Banten Tbk PT up 34.3% 

  Asia stock indexes and                                                       
 currencies at  0423 GMT                                           
 COUNTRY    FX RIC      FX DAILY %  FX YTD %    INDEX      STOCKS  STOCKS YTD %
                                                          DAILY %  
 Japan                       -0.06     +5.07                -0.52         12.54
 China                       -0.17     +6.31                 0.58         11.95
 India                       +0.00     -2.96                -0.35         12.69
 Indonesia                   -0.14     -1.56                 1.26         -1.88
 Malaysia                    -0.17     +1.09                -0.36          3.63
 Philippin                   +0.04     +5.41                -0.47         -7.38
 es                                                                
 S.Korea                     -0.09     +5.06                -0.01         26.13
 Singapore                   -0.41     +0.90                -0.21        -11.78
 Taiwan                      +1.25     +6.99                 0.70         19.61
 Thailand                    -0.73     -0.33                -2.51         -8.52
 

 (Reporting by Anushka Trivedi in Bengaluru, additional
reporting by AK Pranav; editing by Richard Pullin)
  
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