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EMERGING MARKETS-Philippine shares climb ahead of c.bank meeting; Malaysia muted before GDP data

    * Graphic: World FX rates tmsnrt.rs/2RBWI5E
    * Philippine c.bank likely to hold rates on Thursday
    * Malaysia's GDP slump likely deepened in Q4- poll
    * Vietnam, Taiwan stock markets closed for Lunar New Year

    By Shruti Sonal
    Feb 10 (Reuters) - Philippine shares rose on Wednesday on
expectations its central bank would remain accommodative at a
monetary policy meeting later this week, while Malaysian
equities traded cautiously ahead of fourth-quarter GDP data.
    Regional stock markets traded in tight ranges ahead of the 
Lunar New Year holidays which start this week, while emerging
Asian currencies were also range-bound.
    The Manila stock market index climbed as much as 1.3%
to hit its highest level in nearly three weeks. 
    Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is expected to keep its
benchmark interest rate steady at a record low on Thursday,
brushing aside a projected uptick in inflation to support the
country's pandemic-hit economy, a Reuters poll showed.

    BSP would likely look through a recent increase in inflation
and maintain an easy monetary policy stance, Standard Chartered
analysts wrote in a note. Annual inflation hit its highest level
in two years in January.
    Further aiding sentiment, the government raised 221.2
billion pesos ($4.6 billion) at an auction of three-year retail
treasury bonds on Tuesday, proceeds from which will fund the
government's national budget.
    But analysts remained wary about the pace of economic
recovery. 
    "The economy remains quarters away from returning to
pre-pandemic levels of GDP," said ING senior economist Nicholas
Mapa. 
    Malaysian stocks were up 0.1% ahead of release of
fourth-quarter GDP data on Thursday. 
    A Reuters poll showed that the economic slump is expected to
have deepened as a result of sustained restrictions on movement
and business to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
   "Worryingly, Q4 weakness is not merely backward-looking as
spill-over impact from wider MCO (movement control orders)
alongside (the) state of emergency declared darken growth
prospects for Q1 2021 as well," Mizuho Bank analysts said.
    Trade was subdued before the Lunar New Year, with stock
markets in Vietnam and Taiwan already closed for the holidays.
China will enter a week-long holiday from Thursday.
    Shares in Indonesia, Singapore and South
Korea were about 0.1% lower, while those in Thailand
 and India were up 0.2% and 0.1% respectively.
    Currencies in the region, which have seen solid gains
recently against a weaker U.S. dollar, were also broadly steady.
Malaysian ringgit < ticked up 0.2%, while the Thai baht
 and Indonesian rupiah added 0.1% each.
    "A divergent thematic of COVID-19 improvement, vaccine
roll-out and growth outperformance in favour of U.S. compared to
other parts of the world could still be in play," Maybank
analysts said. 
    "This is supportive of overall sentiment but should also
provide temporary and moderate support for USD in the interim." 
    
    Highlights:
    
    ** Malaysia's Supermax temporarily halts operations on
COVID-19 cases 
    ** In the Philippines, top index gainers are Robinsons
Retail Holdings Inc, LT Group Inc, Aboitiz
Equity Ventures Inc 
    
    
  Asia stock indexes and                                     
 currencies at   0407 GMT                             
 COUNTRY  FX RIC        FX  FX YTD    INDEX   STOCKS   STOCKS
                     DAILY       %           DAILY %    YTD %
                         %                            
 Japan               +0.02   -1.25            -0.09    7.41
 China    <CNY=CFX   -0.05   +1.41              1.03     4.83
          S>                                          
 India               +0.00   +0.24              0.05     8.12
 Indones             +0.06   +0.41             -0.07     3.32
 ia                                                   
 Malaysi             +0.20   -0.45              0.16    -2.37
 a                                                    
 Philipp             -0.02   -0.06              0.69    -0.36
 ines                                                 
 S.Korea  <KRW=KFT   +0.68   -2.06             -0.07     7.27
          C>                                          
 Singapo             +0.00   -0.37             -0.14     3.07
 re                                                   
 Taiwan              +0.00   +0.33                 -     7.26
 Thailan             +0.07   +0.17              0.24     5.01
 d                                                    
 
 (Reporting by Shruti Sonal in Bengaluru; Editing by Ana
Nicolaci da Costa)
  
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