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EMERGING MARKETS-Most Asian currencies advance, likely vaccine deal boosts won

    * Singapore begins rollout of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine
    * Thai stocks jump nearly 1% in last trading day of year
    * Philippine stock markets shut for holiday

    By Pranav A K
    Dec 30 (Reuters) - Asia's emerging currencies were broadly
firmer against a soft dollar on Wednesday, with the South Korean
won at a near three-week high after the government looked set to
buy COVID-19 vaccines for most of its population.
    Singapore's dollar, the Malaysian ringgit and
the Indonesia's rupiah gained between 0.2% and 0.3% as
the greenback hit an almost two-year low, continuing its steady
decline since U.S. President Donald Trump signed a coronavirus
aid bill on Sunday. 
    The won climbed 0.5% after U.S. biotech company
Moderna Inc said on Tuesday it was in discussions with
Seoul to supply 40 million or more doses of its COVID-19
vaccine. The news came a day after South Korea, which has a
population of 52 million, detected its first cases of the new
coronavirus variant.
    "Basically broad U.S. dollar softness and vaccine optimism
remain the key drivers of Asian FX strength this morning," said
Christopher Wong, a senior foreign exchange strategist at
Maybank.
    Heading into 2021, Mizuho Bank said in a note that the
intensifying hunt for yield amid a deluge of cheap money will
boost emerging markets assets and currencies, with currency
moves also played up by a chronic soft U.S. dollar trend.
    Dollar weakness also underpinned gains in Asian stock
markets, extending a year-end rally on hopes that vaccine
rollouts would help regional economies shake off the pandemic's
grip soon.     
    Thai stocks jumped 0.9% in their last trading day of
the year, while Singapore's main index notched a near
two-week high as the city-state became one of the first Asian
countries to begin an inoculation campaign against the
coronavirus, with the Pfizer-BioNTech,
COVID-19 vaccine.
    "Overall Singapore has been the laggard over the last 12
months and they're just catching up with the rest of the region.
Valuations are cheap for Singapore stocks," said Joel Ng, an
analyst at KGI Securities in Singapore.
    He added that Singapore is dependent on regional travel and
trade and the vaccine news will help the country to open up
soon.
    India's NSE Nifty 50 index faltered after a record
run after the country's central bank warned the financial sector
faces challening times ahead.
    Stock markets in the Philippines were closed for a public
holiday, while trading volumes were thin across the region ahead
of the New Year's eve break. 
    
    HIGHLIGHTS:
    
    ** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields are down 18.6 basis
points at 5.911%
    ** Top gainers on the Thailand's SETI include Castle
Peak Holdings PCL up 24.2% AND Delta Electronics
Thailand PCL up 19.18%
    ** Top gainers on the Singapore STI include Ascendas
Real Estate Investment Trust AND Yangzijiang
Shipbuilding Holdings Ltd rising nearly 1.6% each

 Asia stock indexes and currencies                                                     
 at 0452 GMT                                                               
 COUNTRY     FX RIC       FX DAILY %   FX YTD %     INDEX  STOCKS DAILY %  STOCKS YTD %
 Japan                         +0.27      +5.16                     -0.31         16.17
 China                         +0.10      +6.74                      0.90         11.78
 India                         +0.14      -2.65                     -0.16         14.31
 Indonesia                     +0.32      -1.32                     -0.77         -4.92
 Malaysia                      +0.25      +1.26                      0.14          3.05
 Philippine                    -0.02      +5.45                      0.25         -8.64
 s                                                                         
 S.Korea                       +0.54      +6.46                      1.50         30.26
 Singapore                     +0.20      +1.52                      0.54        -11.15
 Taiwan                        +1.48      +7.14                      0.80         21.60
 Thailand                      +0.07      -0.33                      0.39         -7.10
 





 (Reporting by A K Pranav in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim Coghill)
  
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