for-phone-onlyfor-tablet-portrait-upfor-tablet-landscape-upfor-desktop-upfor-wide-desktop-up

EMERGING MARKETS-Indonesia rupiah steady, stocks fall after c.bank rate cut, GDP downgrade

    * Graphic: World FX rates tmsnrt.rs/2RBWI5E
    * Indonesia cenbank also cuts lending facility rate
    * Do not see scope for another rate cut by BI going forward
-
analysts
    * SingTel shares drop on data breach

    By Anushka Trivedi
    Feb 18 (Reuters) - The Indonesian rupiah was little changed
while stocks declined after the country's central bank cut
interest rates by 25 basis points, as expected, and downgraded
the economic growth outlook for 2021.
    Bank Indonesia (BI) slashed the benchmark rate to 3.50%, its
sixth since the start of the pandemic, but saw "limited" room
for any more cuts even as it acknowledged the weakness in policy
transmission since loans have struggled to pick up.
    Rupiah was flat in the run up to the decision after
weakening 0.7% over the past two sessions, while stocks
fell 0.4%, retreating from a 0.9% jump in the morning trade.
    BI also trimmed the lending facility rate and relaxed some
borrowing rules as it now forecasts slower economic growth in
2021 due to the harsh second wave of COVID-19 infections, but
banked on vaccines to drive a rebound. 
    "While a relatively stable currency in general helped BI to
opt for a cut, it needs to be remembered that weak economic
activity is the prime reason for Indonesia's healthy current
account balance," said Kunal Kundu, an economist at Societe
Generale.
    "Going forward, we do not see any further scope of rate cut
by BI unless the COVID-19 situation worsens even further." 
    The central bank signalled it would use other means to
provide monetary help, including continuing to buy government
bonds, which BNP Paribas' head of ASEAN Economics Arup Raha saw
as vital if done in tandem with fiscal support.
    Indonesia financed its 2020 fiscal deficit and COVID-19
stimulus by raising debt, a good portion of which was bought by
the central bank.      
    Other currencies in the region eased as the dollar
firmed on signs of a pickup in the U.S. economy. The Malaysian
ringgit, the Thai baht and the Philippine peso
 all fell around 0.2%.        
    Most Asian stocks were also downbeat, with the Straits Times
Index slipping 0.5% after Singapore Telecommunications
 slumped on reporting a privacy breach, which led to
data of some consumers being stolen.    

HIGHLIGHTS
    
    ** Indonesia c. bank says rupiah has room to strengthen, is
fundamentally undervalued
    ** South Korea stocks slid 1.5% to a one-week low on
continuing jump in coronavirus cases
    ** JGS Summit and Aboitiz Equity are top
losers on the Philippine index

 Asia stock indexes and currencies at                                                   
 0817 GMT                                                                   
 COUNTRY       FX RIC       FX DAILY %  FX YTD %     INDEX  STOCKS DAILY %  STOCKS YTD %
 Japan                           +0.02     -2.45                     -0.19         10.17
 China                           -0.20     +0.89                      0.55          5.82
 India                           -0.01     +0.44                     -0.74          7.98
 Indonesia                       +0.00     +0.21                     -0.44          3.70
 Malaysia                        -0.15     -0.57                     -0.64         -2.59
 Philippines                     -0.23     -1.01                     -1.68         -4.06
 S.Korea                         -0.01     -1.93                     -1.50          7.42
 Singapore                       +0.01     -0.56                     -0.54          2.14
 Taiwan                          +0.18     +0.54                      0.38         11.48
 Thailand                        -0.10     -0.17                      0.11          4.64
 
 (Reporting by Anushka Trivedi in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna
Chandra Eluri)
  
for-phone-onlyfor-tablet-portrait-upfor-tablet-landscape-upfor-desktop-upfor-wide-desktop-up