EMERGING MARKETS-Indian rupee hits over 5-month high, growth worries hit S. Korea

    * Graphic: World FX rates
    * Graphic: Foreign flows into Asian stocks
    * Rupee hits highest level since mid-March 
    * South Korean shares down on GDP forecast cut

    By Shriya Ramakrishnan
    Aug 27 (Reuters) - Indian rupee led Asian currencies with a
more than half percent gain on Thursday, adding to this week's
central bank-inspired appreciation against the dollar, while
South Korean shares sank after Bank of Korea slashed its
economic outlook for the year.
    The rupee had surged 1% on Monday as dealers reported a halt
in central bank buying of the dollar, widely understood to be
aimed at aiding the competitiveness of Indian exporters as the
economy struggles with one of the world's worst coronavirus
    Dealers said a large order, potentially squaring up ahead of
a keenly-watched speech by U.S. Federal Reserve chief Jerome
Powell later later in the day, helped drive the rupee
to 73.9 per dollar on Thursday, its highest level since March
    "It is a fix related selling probably by a large banker or
corporate which has contributed to the sudden fall in USD/INR,"
said Anindya Banerjee, vice president at Kotak Securities.
    "The undertone remains of a strong rupee due to a soft USD
overseas and robust inflows into equity markets." 
    Seoul's export-focused KOSPI closed more than
1%lower, ending a four-day rally as the grim forecasts from the
Bank of Korea added to its highest daily spike in COVID-19
infections since March. 
    The central bank said it now expected 2020 gross domestic
product to shrink 1.3%, compared to 0.2% earlier.
    South Korea had been more successful than others in
containing the virus, but has been set back by the new outbreak
with authorities warning about the possibility of new clusters
in densely-populated workspaces.
    The won inched higher against the dollar, finding
some support from the central bank's decision to leave its
benchmark interest rate at a record low of 0.5% after 75 basis
points of rate cuts this year. 
    Most other Asian currencies struggled for direction ahead of
Powell's speech.
    Investors have largely priced in a dovish message from the
Fed chief when he opens the Kansas City Fed's annual economic
policy conference, and the question is whether any adjustments
he may make to its policy toolbox will be enough to flatten U.S.
market interest rates further.
    The Indonesian rupiah, Malaysian ringgit and
Philippine peso were all flat to marginally lower against
the dollar, while the Taiwan dollar stood out once
again with gains of 0.6%.
    ** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields are up 3.5 basis
points at 6.79%
    ** Top losers on the Singapore STI include: Mapletree
Commercial Trust down 3.03% at S$1.92; Singapore
Airlines Ltd down 2.93% at S$3.65; Dairy Farm
International Holdings Ltd down 2.3% at S$4.25
    ** In the Philippines, top index losers are Manila Electric
Co down 3.19% at 267 peso; Bloomberry Resorts Corp
 down 2.91% at 6.01 peso; Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc
 down 2.49% at 47 peso
  Asia stock indexes and                                  
 currencies at   0745 GMT                           
                      DAILY  YTD %               S   YTD %
                          %                  DAILY  
 Japan                -0.01  +2.47           -0.35   -1.89
 China     <CNY=CFXS  +0.13  +1.26            0.61    9.84
 India                +0.58  -3.36            0.39   -4.72
 Indonesi             +0.00  -5.39            0.08  -15.16
 Malaysia             -0.07  -1.92           -0.08   -2.55
 Philippi             +0.10  +4.33           -0.16  -24.23
 S.Korea   <KRW=KFTC  +0.15  -2.41           -1.05    6.68
 Singapor             +0.06  -1.49           -0.74  -21.70
 Taiwan               +0.03  +2.03           -0.28    6.67
 Thailand             +0.38  -4.17            0.47  -15.89

 (Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by
Patrick Graham and Rashmi Aich)