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EMERGING MARKETS-Philippine shares slide on surging infections, region edges higher

    * Philippines saw the largest single-day increase in
COVID-19
cases over six months on Saturday
    * Fed policy meeting ends Wednesday
    * Taiwan, Indonesia central bank meetings on Thursday

    By Nikhil Nainan
    March 15 (Reuters) - Philippine shares fell more than 3% on
Monday as cases of COVID-19 in the country surged once again,
prompting new local restrictions, while other Asian stock
markets edged higher on hopes the mammoth U.S. stimulus would
help the global economy.
    Stocks in Singapore and Malaysia climbed
close to half a percent, leading more muted gains in Southeast
Asia, as the $1,400 direct payments from the $1.9 trillion U.S.
package make their way to households. 
    Inflation remains a concern, though, and has kept 10-year
U.S. Treasuries yields around 13-month highs,
sapping appetite for Asia's high-yielding bonds, and the
currencies that back them. 
    The region's emerging currencies on Monday were flat. The
South Korea won, however, fell 0.3%. 
    In the Philippines, a worrying surge in cases has prompted
restrictions to be reimposed in parts of the country, including
metro Manila. Shares were at their lowest level in more
than four months, falling as much as 3.6% - their sharpest drop
since August.
    "Sentiment is weighed down by the dramatic increase in
COVID-19 infections as of late," said Jennifer Lomboy, a
Manila-based fixed income fund manager at First Metro Asset.
    She added that this "clouds the country's economic
recovery."
    Vaccine supply has also been limited in the Southeast Asian
nation so far with only frontline medical staff and healthcare
workers being given shots in an inoculation campaign that
started this month. 
    In China, Shanghai stocks fell 0.6%. They are down
around 8% from February highs on concerns that authorities may
look to tighten policy to keep things from overheating. 
    The government set a relatively modest 2021 target of over
6% growth for the world's second largest economy, earlier this
month.
    Stocks in the trade-reliant economies of South Korea
and Taiwan dipped.
    The U.S. Federal Reserve's two-day meeting will end on
Wednesday, with investors on the lookout for any sign that
rising inflation expectations will bring forward policy
tightening. 
    Also meeting this week are the central banks of Indonesia
and Taiwan.
    Taiwan's central bank governor Yang Chin-long said last week
that the United States may label the island a currency
manipulator as it has already met Washington's three main
criteria for making such a decision.

    HIGHLIGHTS:
    ** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields up 10.29 basis points
at 6.826%
    ** In the Philippines, the top losers were Bloomberry
Resorts Corp, Alliance Global Group Inc and
San Miguel Corp 
    ** China's factory output surges as recovery accelerates
    
  Asia stock indexes and currencies at   0332 GMT
 COUNTRY      FX RIC      FX       FX     INDEX    STOCKS   STOCKS
                          DAILY %  YTD %           DAILY %  YTD %
 Japan                    -0.06    -5.38           0.33     8.64
 China                    +0.08    +0.38           -0.63    -1.20
 India                    +0.00    +0.39           0.00     7.50
 Indonesia                -0.10    -2.47           -0.34    5.98
 Malaysia                 0.00     -2.33           0.39     -0.32
 Philippines              -0.02    -0.99           -3.08    -8.66
 S.Korea                  -0.29    -4.48           -0.17    6.12
 Singapore                -0.09    -1.86           0.33     9.20
 Taiwan                   +0.04    +1.09           -0.16    10.16
 Thailand                 +0.10    -2.54           0.28     8.50
 
 (Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by
Simon Cameron-Moore)
  
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