EMERGING MARKETS-Asian stocks, FX tumble as new COVID-19 strain triggers lockdown fears

    * Graphic: World FX rates tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh
    * S. Korean won marks 3-wk low, shares plunge
    * Thai central bank meeting awaited on Wednesday
    * Travel and industrial stocks tumble in Asia

    By Anushka Trivedi
    Dec 22 (Reuters) - Indonesia, South Korea and Singapore
shares slumped up to 2% on Tuesday, dragged down by export and
travel focussed shares on growing worries about possible
lockdowns due to a new fast-spreading COVID-19 strain.
    Malaysia and Singapore stocks were on track
to fall for a fourth straight session, while the Jakarta index
 saw its worst day in three weeks as more countries shut
their doors to travellers from the UK after the detection of a
highly virulent strain of the virus.   
    "There's a lot of money that went into leisure because
everybody jumped on the vaccine bandwagon. So obviously that is
going to be one of the pawns immediately put in play on these
negative headlines," said Stephen Innes, chief global market
strategist at Axi.  
    The leaders in the developed world will be more inclined to
impose stricter lockdowns for the next four weeks and that is
very concerning, Innes added.
    The new virus strain was detected in Australia on Monday,
while Hong Kong and India said they would suspend flights from
    Most of the trade- and tourism-reliant stock indexes fell in
the region, with South Korea's KOSPI plunging 1.5% as
the country battled a rise in infections and imposed new curbs.
The won gave up 0.5% to hit a three-week low.

    Earlier this year, the island-nation was lauded for its
handling of the first two waves of the virus. The won has been
among the top performing currencies but has fallen 1.7% after
new virus cases were reported about two-weeks ago.
    The Thai baht eased 0.3% a day before the Bank of
Thailand's first meeting since the central bank intervened
earlier this month in the foreign exchange markets to curb the
currency's rapid rise. 
    Analysts at Standard Chartered said in a note that there was
limited room for the country's central bank to ease rates, even
next year. Instead, it may revise its 2021 growth forecasts as
the economy remains weak.
    A surge in cases over the weekend linked to an outbreak at a
 seafood centre also clouded Thailand's economic outlook as it
threatened to challenge the country's efforts at reviving
    Other regional currencies weakened against a broadly
stronger greenback, with the Malaysian ringgit, the
Indonesian rupiah and the Singapore dollar
dropping 0.3% each.

    ** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields are up
9.2 basis points at 6.13%
    ** Top losers on the Singapore benchmark are:
Singapore Airlines, down 4.3% and SATS Ltd,
down 3.4%
    ** Top losers on the Malaysia benchmark are: Genting
Malaysia Bhd down 4.7% and Genting Bhd down

 Asia stock indexes and currencies at                                                    
 0658 GMT                                                                   
 Japan                          -0.14      +4.99                     -1.04          11.75
 China                          -0.02      +6.28                     -1.63          10.31
 India                          -0.19      -3.43                     -0.62           8.85
 Indonesia                      -0.32      -1.87                     -1.68          -3.77
 Malaysia                       -0.27      +0.71                     -1.22           2.45
 Philippines                    +0.05      +5.29                     -0.31          -7.84
 S.Korea                        -0.42      +4.42                     -1.62          24.39
 Singapore                      -0.30      +0.61                     -1.20         -12.74
 Taiwan                         +1.32      +6.96                     -1.44          18.17
 Thailand                       -0.33      -0.93                      1.21         -10.20

 (Reporting by Anushka Trivedi in Bengaluru, additonal reporting
by A K Pranav; Editing by Anil D'Silva)
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