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EMERGING MARKETS-Malaysian shares recover, but Asia beset by virus worries

    * Graphic: World FX rates tmsnrt.rs/2RBWI5E
    * Asian stock markets: tmsnrt.rs/2zpUAr4
    * Investors eye key central bank meeting in Indonesia
    * Malaysian stocks snap 3 day losing streak
    * Singapore core inflation rises to 0.6% in April

    By Harish Sridharan
    May 24 (Reuters) - Malaysian shares recovered almost all the
ground lost last week in early trading on Monday, providing the
standout performance among Asia's emerging markets that have
been unsettled by the pandemic's resurgence in the region.
    More broadly, investors remained concerned by chances that 
U.S. monetary policy could be tightened sooner than expected due
to inflationary pressures, and would be closly watching comments
by Federal Reserve officials expected later in the week.
    Asian currencies were flat as the dollar pulled slightly off
last week's three-month lows. The Philippine peso stood
out with a 0.2% drop. 
    Equities in Malaysia gained as much as 1% and eyed
their best session since April 7. Shares in the country lost
1.3% last week as record coronavirus numbers and deaths unnerved
investors, who were now picking up bargains after a three-day
losing streak by the index. 
    The country reported a record 6,976 new coronavirus cases on
Sunday amid a recent surge in infections.
    While India is suffering a second wave of coronavirus cases
on vastly higher scale, even countries like Taiwan and
Singapore, which came through the first year of the pandemic
relatively unscathed, are now facing rising numbers that have
forced their governments to impose tighter restrictions on
people's movement.
    On Monday, Singapore and Taiwan shares edged
higher, but they have lost 2.8% and 7.1% so far this month.  
    Minutes from the Fed's April meeting last week suggested
that a sizable minority of policymakers were open to discuss
potentially tapering bond purchases, and Fed speakers this week
could shed further light on U.S. policy settings.
    "Taper talk is likely to be referred frequently going
forward, especially by the hawkish members of the FOMC, but it
is unlikely to have a huge initial impact on EM FX like in 2013,
as the Fed is being very careful this time," analysts at
Barclays FX and EM Macro Strategy said in a note.
    Singapore's core inflation rate, the central bank's favoured
price measure - rose to 0.6% in April from a year earlier,
compared to 0.5% in the previous month. Stocks in the
country were trading 0.2% higher, while the currency
strenghtened 0.1%
    In Indonesia, the rupiah was largely unchanged ahead
of Tuesday's monetary policy decision. 
    Bank Indonesia is expected to keep its key interest rate
steady at record lows, a Reuters poll found, as the rupiah faces
pressure from capital outflows and as the economy slowly
recovers from the pandemic.
    South Korea's central bank also meets on Thursday. Stocks
 were down on Monday with a slump in cryptocurrencies
weighing on the index. 
    
    
        
HIGHLIGHTS:
    ** Top gainers on FTSE Bursa Malaysia Kl Index wwew
Sime Darby Plantation Bhd and Press Metal Aluminium
Holdings Bhd
    ** In the Philippines, top index loser was Megaworld Corp
, down 3.85% 
    ** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields are down 1.9 basis
points at 6.501%
  Asia stock indexes and                              
 currencies at   0358 GMT                        
 COUNTRY  FX RIC        FX     FX  INDE  STOCKS  STOCK
                     DAILY  YTD %     X   DAILY  S YTD
                         %                    %      %
 Japan               +0.08  -5.15  <.N2    0.43   3.62
                                   25>           
 China    <CNY=CFX   +0.02  +1.48  <.SS    0.16   0.55
          S>                       EC>           
 India               +0.00  +0.32  <.NS    0.24   8.79
                                   EI>           
 Indones             +0.00  -2.16  <.JK    0.23  -3.22
 ia                                SE>           
 Malaysi             +0.00  -2.88  <.KL    0.84  -3.19
 a                                 SE>           
 Philipp             -0.27  -0.06  <.PS   -0.66  -13.7
 ines                              I>                5
 S.Korea  <KRW=KFT   -0.13  -3.75  <.KS   -0.07   9.77
          C>                       11>           
 Singapo             +0.11  -0.71  <.ST    0.33  10.00
 re                                I>            
 Taiwan              +0.08  +2.03  <.TW    0.42  11.11
                                   II>           
 Thailan             -0.03  -4.53  <.SE   -0.13   6.98
 d                                 TI>           
 

 (Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
  
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