Philippine stocks rose to their highest in more than four months on Thursday, boosted by upbeat data that showed a decline in unemployment and an expansion in manufacturing activity.
The Manila index jumped nearly 1.5 percent — its biggest gain in over three weeks — after the statistics bureau said unemployment had slipped to 7.7 percent in May, the lowest since March.
The IHS Markit June manufacturing PMI (Purchasing Managers' Index), a measure of economic trends in the manufacturing sector, rose to 50.8, from 49.9 in May.
Unemployment had declined as "stricter quarantine measures were lifted in key cities in the capital," Jennifer Mae V. Lomboy, a fund manager with First Metro Asset Management said.
Sentiment was also lifted by "the expansion of manufacturing PMI recorded in June following two straight months of sub-50 prints", she added.
However, the Philippines continues to battle a virus outbreak, as restrictions on movement and businesses in the capital and nearby provinces were extended this week.
The spread of the Delta variant of the novel coronavirus and the U.S. dollar's rise towards three-month highs has prompted investors to cut long bets across all Asian currencies, a Reuters poll showed.
In Indonesia, one of the hardest-hit countries, stock markets ceded some early-session gains after the country's president confirmed emergency measures, including tighter movement restrictions, to contain a spike in cases.
Indonesia also reported a slowdown in annual inflation to 1.33 percent in June, well below the 2 percent to 4 percent target range. The rupiah weakened to its lowest in over two months.
"We expect (Bank Indonesia) Governor Warjiyo to keep policy rates at historically low levels... However, recent pressure on IDR due to anxiety over the virus resurgence will likely prevent BI from cutting rates further in the near term," Nicholas Mapa, senior economist at ING said in a note.
Thai stocks advanced slightly, with the tourism-reliant economy seeing the reopening of the resort island of Phuket to vaccinated foreign tourists on Thursday.
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