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EMERGING MARKETS-Thai baht hits 7-yr peak as investors see c.bank resistance slipping

    * Thai baht hits strongest level since late May, 2013
    * Indonesia, Philippines cenbanks expected to hold fire
    * S. Korea cuts growth outlook

    By Shriya Ramakrishnan
    Dec 17 (Reuters) - The Thai baht jumped to a more than
seven-year high and breached a major resistance level on
Thursday, as investors bet the country's inclusion on a U.S.
currency watch list might weaken the central bank's
determination to slow the currency's gains.
    The baht firmed 0.6% to 29.83 per U.S. dollar. Thai
exporters last week had called on the central bank to ensure the
baht did not appreciate beyond the 30 per dollar mark, which is
critical to keep them globally competitive. 
    The Bank of Thailand said it did not see a big impact on
foreign trade and investment after the country was added to a
U.S. currency monitoring list along with Taiwan and India.

    It added it had conducted two-way intervention only to ride
out currency volatility and had no intention of using the
exchange rate to gain an unfair trade advantage. 
    "I think in the near-term the central bank might refrain
from heavily supporting the baht due to the report ... by
letting the baht dip below the 30 per dollar level today, it is
a signal that the central bank will let it move more freely in
line with its Asian peers," said Poon Panichpibool, a market
strategist at Krung Thai Bank said. 
    "The baht is going to be much stronger from now ... I don't
think BOT will try to change that direction, but they will try
to slow down the appreciation, such that exporters can hedge
their FX risk."
    The Taiwanese dollar climbed more than 1% against a
broadly weaker U.S. dollar, with its own central bank saying the
move was a reflection of the island's trade surplus with the
United States. The Indian rupee rose marginally.

    The Indonesian rupiah and Philippine peso were
steady ahead of central bank meetings later in the day. 
    Economists by and large expect both banks to leave interest
rates unchanged after aggressive policy easing this year to
support their pandemic-hit economies.
    In equity markets, South Korea's KOSPI slipped 0.4%
as the country reported a record daily jump in coronavirus
deaths and cut its 2021 growth forecast. 
    Singapore shares shed about half a percent, after
data showed the city-state's non-oil domestic exports
unexpectedly fell 4.9% in November from a year earlier.

    
    HIGHLIGHTS:
    ** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields are down 6.4 basis
points at 6.037%
    ** Top losers on the Singapore STI include: Genting
Singapore Ltd down 1.69% at S$0.875; CapitaLand
Integrated Commercial Trust down 1.38% at S$2.15;
Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation Ltd down 1.17% at
S$10.11
    ** In the Philippines, top index gainers are DMCI Holdings
Inc up 2.16% at 6.15 peso, Globe Telecom Inc
up 2% at 2040 peso, SM Investments Corp up 1.77% at 1094
peso
    
    
  Asia stock indexes and                                      
 currencies at   0453 GMT                               
 COUNTRY   FX RIC         FX     FX       INDEX  STOCK  STOCKS
                       DAILY  YTD %                  S   YTD %
                           %                     DAILY  
                                                     %  
 Japan                 +0.14  +5.10               0.15   13.28
 China                 -0.07  +6.52               0.63   11.09
 India                 +0.07  -2.91               0.27   12.75
 Indonesi              +0.00  -1.49               0.32   -2.56
 a                                                      
 Malaysia              +0.27  +1.26              -0.53    5.27
 Philippi              +0.15  +5.52              -0.61   -7.17
 nes                                                    
 S.Korea               +0.19  +5.91              -0.41   25.61
 Singapor              +0.14  +1.30              -0.49  -11.30
 e                                                      
 Taiwan                +1.19  +6.99              -0.51   18.63
 Thailand              +0.57  +0.27               0.62   -5.61
 



 (Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; editing by
Richard Pullin)
  
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