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EMERGING MARKETS-Taiwan leads most Asian shares higher, Malaysia down on COVID-19 hit

    * Philippines recoups losses, set to post 8% weekly gain
    * Malaysia reports record spike in daily COVID-19 cases
    * Taiwan dlr, S. Korean won lead Asian currencies higher

    By Arundhati Dutta
    May 28 (Reuters) - Taiwan led most of Asia's emerging market
equities higher on Friday as investors cheered positive U.S.
economic data and plans for trillions of dollars in federal
spending, while Malaysian shares fell as COVID-19 cases hit a
daily record.
    The region's currencies held on to gains ahead of U.S.
inflation data, with the Taiwan dollar and the South
Korean won leading gains against the greenback.
    On Thursday, the New York Times reported that President Joe
Biden will seek $6 trillion in U.S. federal spending for the
2022 fiscal year, while data showed that the number of Americans
filing jobless claims dropped more than expected last week.

    "Asia appears to feel that some of that goody bag will fall
their way, and Asian equity markets have risen today," Jeffrey
Halley, a senior market analyst at brokerage OANDA, said in a
note.
    Prior to market opening, the People's Bank of China (PBOC)
set the yuan midpoint rate at 6.3858 per dollar,
firmer than the previous fix of 6.403. 
    "That has lifted the currencies of neighbouring South Korea
and Taiwan...PBOC made it easier for financial institutions to
secure off-shore funding for their balance sheets," Halley said.
    U.S. inflation data due at 1230 GMT on Friday will also be a
big focus, as a high reading could fuel expectations of policy
tightening by the Federal Reserve.
    Taiwanese stocks jumped 1.6%, hitting their highest
in over two weeks. 
    The island's first batch of 150,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses,
out of more than 5 million ordered from Moderna Inc, is
set to arrive on Friday.
    Philippine shares recouped losses accrued earlier in
the session to rise 0.1%. The benchmark is set to gain nearly 8%
for the week.
    Thai stocks jumped 0.4%, extending gains to a third
session. The country said it planned more measures to retain
jobs and boost domestic consumption, as it struggles with a
severe third wave of infections.
    On the downside, Malaysian stocks dipped as the country
reported 7,857 new coronavirus cases in its third straight day
of record infections.
    This raised fears that Malaysia's tepid domestic recovery
will seriously falter, Halley said. 
    "A complete nationwide lockdown cannot be ruled out, with
some state rulers urging the federal government to do this,"
Prakash Sakpal and Nicholas Mapa, analysts at brokerage ING,
said in a note.
    
    HIGHLIGHTS
    **Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields are down 1.9 basis
points at 6.426%
    **Thailand's 3-year benchmark yield is up 1 basis points at
0.57%​​ 
    **Top losers in Malaysia are Hong Leong Financial Group and
Supermax Corp
    
  Asia stock indexes and currencies                       
 at   0651 GMT                                      
 COUNTRY   FX RIC          FX     FX  INDE  STOCKS  STOCKS
                      DAILY %  YTD %     X   DAILY   YTD %
                                                 %  
 Japan                  -0.09  -6.06  <.N2   2.1     6.2
                                      25>           
 China     <CNY=CFXS    +0.16  +2.42  <.SS   -0.42    3.47
           >                          EC>           
 India                  +0.21  +0.86  <.NS    0.61   10.37
                                      EI>           
 Indonesi               -0.16  -1.87  <.JK   -0.01   -2.31
 a                                    SE>           
 Malaysia               +0.07  -2.78  <.KL   -0.32   -2.36
                                      SE>           
 Philippi               +0.15  +0.36  <.PS    0.14   -6.52
 nes                                  I>            
 S.Korea   <KRW=KFTC    +0.23  -2.63  <.KS    0.73   10.97
           >                          11>           
 Singapor               -0.01  -0.23  <.ST    0.64   12.00
 e                                    I>            
 Taiwan                 +0.31  +2.70  <.TW    1.62   14.51
                                      II>           
 Thailand               +0.06  -4.19  <.SE    0.39    9.65
                                      TI>           
 


 (Reporting by Arundhati Dutta in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika
Syamnath)
  
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