EMERGING MARKETS-Singapore, Thai stocks rise as Q4 economic hit less than feared

    * Graphic: World FX rates
    * Graphic: Foreign flows into Asian stocks
    * S. Korea stocks hit highest since Jan. 27
    * China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, U.S. markets shut

    By Shashwat Awasthi
    Feb 15 (Reuters) - Singapore and Thai share markets began a
data-heavy week on a firm footing on Monday after the two
Southeast Asian economies contracted less than expected in the
final quarter of 2020.
    South Korean shares jumped 1.5% and Malaysian shares
 touched a near one-month high as Asian stocks hit record
highs on optimism the rollout of coronavirus vaccines around the
world will speed up economic recovery.
    Singapore's economy is expected to recover gradually in
2021, the government said, after better-than-expected
fourth-quarter gross domestic product data.
    Though the city-state marked its worst recession on record
last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FTSE Strait Times
Index jumped as much as 0.7% and was on course for its
best day in a week, while the Singapore dollar firmed.
    Analysts were also looking ahead to Singapore's 2021 budget,
due on Tuesday, for guidance on fiscal policy.
    "We expect next year to be a somewhat normal year for fiscal
policy but that shouldn't be construed as reverting to a budget
surplus," ING analyst Prakash Sakpal said.
    "Although accelerating recovery and GDP growth this year
should enable the government to scale back some of the measures,
we anticipate a broad stance of supporting jobs and business to
    Thai stocks rose 0.6% on the back of
December-quarter GDP data, but the baht traded flat as
Southeast Asia's second-largest economy trimmed its growth
outlook for 2021.
    The tourism-reliant nation was hit hard last year as the
pandemic led to widespread international travel restrictions and
a COVID-19 outbreak in December has dealt a further blow to
prospects for a speedy recovery.
    "We expect more of the same this year as the mainstay for
growth, i.e. tourist arrivals, will unlikely return until the
vaccination drive domestically and globally has gathered
momentum," Mizuho analysts wrote.
    "In addition, the uneasy political situation will keep
domestic and foreign investments on the sidelines depriving the
economy of much needed support."
    Elsewhere in the region, South Korea's KOSPI scaled
a near three-week high and the won gained for the
fourth straight session. Data showed the country's exports
during the first 10 days of February surged 69.1% from a year
    A raft of economic events expected this week, including
Singapore's budget and January trade data, Indonesia's central
bank policy decision, and minutes of the latest U.S. Federal
Reserve meeting, could drive steeper moves across the region.
    Markets in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan were closed for the
Lunar New Year holiday. U.S. stock markets will be closed on
Monday for the Presidents Day holiday.
    ** Thailand's 10-year government bond yields are up 6 basis
points at 1.37%
    ** Top gainers on the Jakarta stock index include MNC Land
Tbk up 33.33%, Kedaung Indah Can Tbk up
25.13% and Indomobil Sukses Internasional Tbk up ​
    ** Top gainers on FTSE Bursa Malaysia Kl Index include MISC
 up 3.35%, Telekom Malaysia up 2.12% and RHB
Bank up 2.07%   
      Asia stock indexes and                      
      currencies at 0352 GMT                    
                    DAILY   YTD %   X      S    S YTD
                      %                  DAILY    %
  Japan             -0.09   -1.69  <.N2  1.21   8.87
  China   <CNY=CFX   0.00   +1.09  <.SS  0.00   5.24
             S>                    EC>          
  India              0.00   +0.43  <.NS  0.71   9.22
 Indones            +0.43   +0.93  <.JK  0.79   4.89
   ia                              SE>          
 Malaysi            +0.16   -0.35  <.KL  0.58   -1.13
    a                              SE>          
 Philipp            +0.24   +0.18  <.PS  0.23   -1.86
  ines                              I>          
 S.Korea  <KRW=KFT  +0.40   -1.49  <.KS  1.48   9.50
             C>                    11>          
 Singapo            +0.17   -0.11  <.ST  0.35   3.23
   re                               I>          
 Taiwan              0.00   +0.33  <.TW  0.00   7.26
 Thailan            +0.10   +0.44  <.SE  0.58   4.68
    d                              TI>          

 (Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; Editing by
Jacqueline Wong)