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EMERGING MARKETS-Malaysian shares drop 1%, ringgit weakens as COVID-19 cases, deaths mount

    * Malaysia shares, ringgit set for worst week since March
    * Indonesia's rupiah falls
    * Taiwan export orders in April surge - up 14th straight
month 

    May 21 (Reuters) - Malaysian shares fell more than 1% on
Friday, leading declines among Asia's other emerging markets, as
the country grapples with record numbers of COVID-19 deaths and
infections with its currency dipping to a more than 1-1/2 month
low.
    Otherwise, the region's currencies were largely flat even as
the dollar was trading at around three-month lows.
    Stocks in Kuala Lumpur and the ringgit are
both heading for their worst weeks since March, while
Indonesia's rupiah, which backs some of emerging markets'
highest-yielding debt, dipped.
    Erasing early gains, Shanghai's composite index fell
half a percent, while blue-chips were down close to
1%.
    China, the world's second-largest economy and one of the top
consumers of commodities, earlier this week said it will curb
"unreasonable" increases in prices. 
    "China's inflation situation is strikingly at odds with the
much-discussed U.S. situation," RBC Capital Markets' head of
Asia FX Strategy Alvin Tan said in a client note.
    "Can there be a global inflationary cycle without Chinese
inflation?".
    More positively, Taiwan's tech-heavy stock index
rose 1.2%. The island reported a 42.6% jump in export orders,
rising for a 14th straight month. The ministry expects orders in
May to rise between 40.1% and 44% from a year earlier even as
the country is facing a spike in cases.
    "While the recent national restrictions in response to the
COVID-19 outbreak may dent domestic demand and confidence,
external demand appears in rude health and should buffer the
negative growth impact this quarter," Tan added.

    HIGHLIGHTS: 
    ** Top losers on FTSE Bursa Malaysia Kl Index include Axiata
Group Bhd and Petronas Dagangan Bhd 
    ** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields rise 2.19 basis
points to 6.512%
  Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0345 GMT
 COUNTRY      FX RIC      FX       FX     INDEX    STOCKS   STOCKS
                          DAILY %  YTD %           DAILY %  YTD %
 Japan                    -0.10    -5.16           0.44     2.84
 China                    +0.03    +1.47           -0.45    0.52
 India                    0.00     -0.05           0.00     6.61
 Indonesia                -0.03    -2.33           -0.27    -3.30
 Malaysia                 +0.00    -2.95           -1.11    -4.27
 Philippines              -0.19    +0.23           -0.29    -13.44
 S.Korea                  +0.40    -3.66           -0.15    9.88
 Singapore                +0.00    -0.75           0.17     9.54
 Taiwan                   +0.37    +2.06           1.21     10.21
 Thailand                 +0.03    -4.49           0.09     7.35
 
 (Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by
Simon Cameron-Moore)
  
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