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EMERGING MARKETS-Asian currencies steady, traders hold off on bets before U.S. inflation

    * Investors torn between higher returns and the Fed's stance
-
analyst
    * Malaysia's ringgit up the most after long weekend
    * Singapore stocks led lower by banks, real estate firms

    June 8 (Reuters) - Emerging Asian currencies largely held
steady on Tuesday as traders adopted a cautious approach ahead
of U.S. inflation data this week for any further clues on the
Federal Reserve's tapering timeline. 
    Stocks markets in the region were a mixed bag, with Kuala
Lumpur leading gains with a rise of 0.4%, while Jakarta
<.JKSE fell 0.8% on concerns over a spike in COVID-19 cases in
some parts of the country.  
    Investors are keeping a close watch on U.S. inflation data
due on Thursday, following on from last week's payrolls report
which tempered expectations of any near-term moves by the Fed to
tighten policy.
    "There is some respite for EM assets as taper fears get
pushed back," Eugene Leow, a rates strategist at DBS said in a
client note. 
    "We reckon investors are still torn between chasing higher
returns while keeping an eye on when the Fed's stance would
change. An uncomfortable carry environment is likely ongoing as
complacency on low USD rates seep in," he added. 
    The ringgit, resuming trade after a market holiday on
Monday, advanced 0.2%, while the Philippine peso and
South Korean won dipped. 
    The rupiah, favoured by foreign investors looking at
Indonesia's high-yielding debt, held steady. Central bank data
showed foreign exchange reserves fell by $2.4 billion in May
amid capital outflows.
    Indonesian authorities have drafted in more doctors and
nurses to two areas on the islands of Java and Madura after
hospitals there approached full capacity, raising worries of a
potentially broader spike in COVID-19 cases that has hit other
Asian countries in recent weeks.
    Stock markets in South Korea and Taiwan,
both of which have seen double-digit gains so far this year as
global trade recovers, were little changed. 
    In Singapore, stocks were led lower by real estate
and banks. 
    The city-state's finance minister said new international tax
rules should not weaken incentives for businesses to invest and
innovate. Singapore, traditionally a low-tax jurisdiction, is
home to a number a global multinational firms' regional
headquarters.
    
    HIGHLIGHTS:
    ** Indonesian 3-year benchmark yields fell 7.7 basis points
to 4.828%​​
    ** CapitaLand Integrated Commercial Trust down
most in Singapore at 1.4%       
  Asia stock indexes and currencies at   0331 GMT
 COUNTRY      FX RIC      FX       FX     INDEX    STOCKS   STOCKS
                          DAILY %  YTD %           DAILY %  YTD %
 Japan                    -0.13    -5.61           -0.11    5.62
 China                    +0.06    +2.12           -0.38    3.25
 India                    +0.00    +0.36           0.00     12.66
 Indonesia                +0.00    -1.54           -0.82    0.69
 Malaysia                 +0.19    -2.38           0.44     -2.57
 Philippines              -0.10    +0.65           0.28     -4.99
 S.Korea                  -0.13    -2.52           0.00     13.18
 Singapore                +0.02    -0.15           -0.45    11.17
 Taiwan                   +0.12    +2.90           0.04     16.00
 Thailand                 -0.06    -3.97           -0.19    11.05
 

 (Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru
Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
  
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