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EMERGING MARKETS-Thai stocks dip, baht inches up as cenbank holds fire

    * Malaysian stocks climb by their most in a week 
    * Philippines and Indonesia buck regional gains
    * S.Korea reports second-highest daily tally of COVID-19
cases

    By Pranav A K
    Dec 23 (Reuters) - The Thai baht inched higher and shares
fell on Wednesday after the country's central bank left its key
interest rate unchanged as expected, while strength in China
helped Asian shares buck a broader pullback in global equities. 
    The baht, whose bounce back in recent months the
Bank of Thailand has sought to cap with verbal and outright
market intervention, ticked up 0.1% against the dollar after the
decision to keep rates at a record low of 0.50%.
    Shares in Bangkok, however, gave up gains from early
trade and slipped half a percent, as the central bank also
downgraded its 2021 GDP forecasts for a tourism-reliant economy
dealing with a fresh coronavirus outbreak.
    "Our call is for a rate cut by Q1 next year," said Kobsidthi
Silpachai, head of capital markets research at Thailand's
Kasikornbank. 
    "This is probably them (BoT) trying to decide based on data,
rather than impulse. If we start to see more and more cases,
that will substantiate their decision to push a cut to Q1 next
year." 
    Broader Asian stock markets shrugged off the global impact
of uncertainty around a U.S. stimulus package and a highly
contagious new coronavirus variant in Europe, with equities in
South Korea, India, Malaysia and
Singapore all higher.
    Sentiment in Asia's tourism- and trade-reliant economies got
a lift following a near 1% jump in Chinese shares due to
a report that the People's Bank of China would avoid sudden
policy tightening next year to aid growth.
    Asian stocks have recovered from their March lows as signs
of a rapid recovery in economic powerhouse China, low valuations
and the still high yields in some markets drew a flood of
foreign capital.  
    Equity markets in South Korea, India and Taiwan are up about
25%, 11% and 18% respectively for the year. 
    Malaysian stocks rose by their most in a week and were on
course to end a four-session losing streak, while South Korea's
KOSPI climbed 1%, boosted by a jump in tech shares after
LG Electronics announced a joint venture for making
key components for electric cars.
    The won, however, weakened slightly as the
country reported its second-highest daily tally of COVID-19
cases.
    "Relatively better management of the virus situation across
most of the Asia region is likely having helped to see buying
interests step in following the dip so far this week," said
Jingyi Pan, a senior market strategist with IG. 
    
    HIGHLIGHTS
    
    ** Indonesian 3-year benchmark yields are up 16.5 basis
points at 5.074%
    ** Top losers on Thailand's SETI include Royal
Ceramic Industry PCL, down 12.16%, and Amanah Leasing
PCL, down 7.24%
    ** Top gainers on FTSE Bursa Malaysia Kl Index
include Genting Bhd, up 4.64%, and Genting Malaysia
Bhd, up 3.83%
    
    
  Asia stock indexes and                                   
 currencies at   0749 GMT                            
 COUNTRY   FX RIC        FX     FX     INDEX  STOCK  STOCKS
                      DAILY  YTD %                S   YTD %
                          %                   DAILY  
                                                  %  
 Japan                +0.23  +5.05             0.33   12.12
 China     <CNY=CFXS  +0.15  +6.58             0.76   10.89
           >                                         
 India                +0.09  -3.25             0.68   11.42
 Indonesi             -0.11  -1.98            -0.46   -4.83
 a                                                   
 Malaysia             -0.02  +0.71             1.18    3.93
 Philippi             +0.10  +5.41             0.03   -7.82
 nes                                                 
 S.Korea   <KRW=KFTC  -0.05  +4.38             0.96   25.58
           >                                         
 Singapor             +0.18  +0.82             0.22  -12.08
 e                                                   
 Taiwan               +1.42  +6.97             0.32   18.55
 Thailand             +0.10  -0.89            -0.45  -10.24
 


 (Reporting by A K Pranav in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu
Sahu)
  
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