EMERGING MARKETS-Thai markets slide on political concerns, Fed sinks stocks

    * Graphic: World FX rates
    * Graphic: Foreign flows into Asian stocks
    * Thai baht hits three-week low 
    * Philippine peso rangebound ahead of rate decision
    * Singapore shares pulled down by Wilmar International 

    By Shriya Ramakrishnan
    Aug 20 (Reuters) - Asia's emerging stock markets sank on
Thursday on the back of a gloomy message from the U.S. Federal
Reserve on growth, while the Thai baht hit a three-week low as
the arrest of an activist lawyer over anti-government protests
added to political risks.
    In South Korea and Taiwan, both strong
exporters highly sensitive to global growth, the main share
indexes dived 3% after minutes from the Fed's last meeting
pointed to widespread concerns over the prospects for economic
    Philippines, Thai and Singapore shares were all down more
than 1% and the peso traded in a tight range ahead of a
central bank meeting.
    The baht fell as much as 0.7%, its worst daily
performance in more than a month, while shares in Bangkok
 were down more than 1%.
    Thai police arrested activist lawyer Anon Nampa on Wednesday
over an Aug. 3 protest at which he called for reform of the
powerful monarchy.
    Student-led protests have taken place almost daily for more
than a month to demand the departure of Prime Minister Prayuth
Chan-ocha, a former junta leader, a new constitution and an end
to the harassment of activists. 
    "The growing frequency and intensity of the protests are
underscoring risks of political stability as demands for
drafting a new constitution could mean a power vacuum during
periods when the economy is the weakest," said Kobsidthi
Silpachai, head of capital markets research at Kasikornbank. 
    In the Philippines, the peso struggled to extend its
recent run of gains against a broadly stronger dollar, while
Manila shares were on course for a second straight day of
declines, down more than 1%. 
    Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) meets on Thursday and is
widely expected to leave its key interest rate at a record low
of 2.25% after four consecutive rate cuts to save ammunition in
case the economy, already in a recession, deteriorates further,
a Reuters poll showed.
    "The rather brutal economic downswing in Q2 GDP could
justify more easing, but we expect that the BSP is more likely
than not to hold off for now," Mizuho Bank analysts said in a
    "To a large extent this is because BSP has already
undertaken significant, front-loaded easing both in terms of
rate cuts as well as liquidity infusion so far."
    Financial markets in Malaysia and Indonesia were closed for
    ** Thailand's 10-year government bond yields are up 1 basis
point at 1.33%, while its 3-year benchmark yields are up 1 basis
point at 0.6%
    ** Top losers on the Singapore STI include Wilmar
International down 10.7% at S$4.34; Hongkong Land
Holdings Ltd down 3.9% at S$3.7
    ** In the Philippines, top index losers are BDO Unibank Inc
 down 2.83% at 89.2 peso; Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co
 down 2.78% at 6.23 peso
  Asia stock indexes and                                     
 currencies at   0352 GMT                               
                      DAILY %       %            DAILY  S YTD
                                                     %      %
 Japan                  +0.08   +2.44            -0.93  -3.22
 China     <CNY=CFXS    -0.04   +0.59            -1.08  10.54
 India                   0.00   -4.60             0.00  -6.25
 Philippi               +0.01   +4.14            -1.07  -23.5
 nes                                                        1
 S.Korea   <KRW=KFTC    -0.46   -2.55            -3.04   4.14
 Singapor               +0.04   -1.84            -1.83  -21.9
 e                                                          9
 Taiwan                 +0.37   +2.40            -2.99   3.33
 Thailand               -0.45   -4.65            -1.12  -18.0

 (Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Additional
reporting by Orathai Sriring; Editing by Sam Holmes)