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EMERGING MARKETS-Taiwan shares bounce 5%, weaker dollar lifts Asian FX

    * Foreign investors bargain-hunt Taiwan shares - analyst 
    * Taiwan in talks with nations for COVID-19 vaccines
    * Worries in Indonesia on a surge in cases after holidays

    By Nikhil Nainan
    May 18 (Reuters) - Battered stock markets in Taiwan and
Singapore jumped on Tuesday, as investors shrugged off fears
over the potential impact of renewed coronavirus restrictions,
while a weaker U.S. dollar lent support to Asia's emerging
currencies. 
    Taiwan stocks closed 5.2% higher, while markets in
neighbouring Japan, which is dealing with a resurgence
in COVID-19 cases and slow vaccination drive, jumped 2.1%. South
Korea and Singapore climbed more than 1% each.
    While much of the Western world eased restrictions, many
Asian countries imposed tighter curbs as fresh cases emerge
while governments struggle to ramp up their vaccination
programmes.
    Singapore and Taiwan, hailed for their past success in
taming the spread of the virus, tightened curbs again recently,
with their stock markets losing 4.3% and 10.4% this month, as of
Monday's close.
    Foreign investors took advantage of the previous session's
drop to pile into Taiwanese stocks, offering a lift to overall
consumer confidence, analysts said.
    "However, the key indicator going forward will still be on
how the pandemic develops," Capital Futures Corp analyst Yeason
Jung said.     
    So far Singapore has been among the fastest in the region to
inoculate its population, while Capital Economics says "Taiwan
has plenty of fiscal firepower" and expects support measures to
be announced soon.
    With reported cases under 300,000 for a second straight day
in India, the country's benchmark Nifty 50 index hit its
highest in more than two months and the rupee
strengthened 0.3%.
    The South Korean won alongside the Taiwan
 and Singaporean dollar led gains in the region's
currencies ahead of minutes on Wednesday from the Federal
Reserve's most recent meeting, which may give clues about where
monetary policy is headed this year.
    Comments by Dallas Fed Bank President that he did not expect
interest rates to rise until next year reassured markets that
the central bank would not tighten early, keeping the dollar
lower against most major currencies. 
    However, stocks markets in the developing economies of
Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines
were trading lower as worries over the health crisis and its
impact on their economies remained intact.
    The rupiah weakened 0.1%, while benchmark 10-year
bond yields edged higher.
    Malaysia, which is under a national lockdown, reported its
deadliest day on Monday, while fears rise that mass gatherings
in Indonesia over Eid could trigger a surge of new cases.
     
        
    HIGHLIGHTS:
    ** Taiwan mobilises diplomats to seek out COVID-19 shots,
including from the U.S.
    ** World Economic Forum cancels 2021 annual meeting in
Singapore
    ** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields up 6.80 basis points
to 6.473%​​     
  Asia stock indexes and currencies at   0636 GMT
 COUNTRY      FX RIC      FX       FX     INDEX     STOCKS   STOCKS
                          DAILY %  YTD %            DAILY %  YTD %
 Japan                    +0.10    -5.35            2.09     3.51
 China                    +0.19    +1.58            0.04     1.33
 India                    +0.24    +0.04            1.24     8.05
 Indonesia                -0.07    -1.75            -0.49    -2.91
 Malaysia                 +0.12    -2.52            -0.08    -2.77
 Philippines              +0.15    +0.42            -0.62    -12.54
 S.Korea                  +0.38    -3.92            1.23     10.43
 Singapore                +0.32    -0.74            1.61     10.04
 Taiwan                   +0.37    +1.94            5.16     9.59
 Thailand                 -0.03    -4.71            1.12     8.08
    

 (Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru and additional
reporting by Liang-sa Loh in Taipei; Editing by Sam Holmes and
Sherry Jacob-Phillips)
  
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