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EMERGING MARKETS-Singapore, Thai stocks cheer less-than-feared Q4 economic contraction

    * Graphic: World FX rates tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh
    * Graphic: Foreign flows into Asian stocks tmsnrt.rs/3lKhL5I
    * S. Korea stocks hit highest since Jan. 27
    * China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, U.S. markets shut

    By Shashwat Awasthi
    Feb 15 (Reuters) - Thailand stocks were on track for their
best day in more than a month on Monday and Singapore shares
jumped after the Southeast Asian economies contracted less than
expected in the final quarter of 2020.
    Across Asia, share markets began a data-heavy week on a firm
footing amid optimism the rollout of coronavirus vaccines
globally will speed up economic recovery.
    Thailand's SETI index jumped 1.3%, the most since
Jan. 8. The baht traded flat as the country trimmed its
growth outlook for 2021.
    The tourism-reliant nation was hit hard last year as the
pandemic led to international travel restrictions and a COVID-19
outbreak in December has dealt a further blow to prospects for a
speedy recovery.
    Thailand's fourth-quarter GDP data could indicate the "worst
is over", but Monday's jump in stocks is also partly down to
steep, single-stock moves, said Poon Panichpibool, a market
strategist at Krung Thai Bank.
    "I think the market just follows hype on some stocks like
PTT Oil and Retail Business... or Delta Electronics which
benefits from up-cycle in semiconductor/IC sectors,"
Panichpibool said.
    PTT Oil and Retail Business, which soared almost 50%
in its market debut last week, was up almost 20%. Shares of
Delta surged 19%.
    Despite a lower 2021 growth forecast, Panichpibool said he
does not expect the Bank of Thailand to cut record low interest
rates further in the near term.
    Stocks in Singapore jumped as much as 0.7% and the
dollar firmed after the city-state too reported
better-than-expected fourth-quarter GDP.
    Analysts were also looking ahead to Singapore's 2021 budget,
due on Tuesday, for guidance on fiscal policy.
    "Domestic policy concerns pertaining to an uneven and
protracted recovery trajectory will likely feature prominently
in the budget announcement tomorrow," said Selena Ling, head of
research and strategy at OCBC Bank.
    South Korea's KOSPI scaled a near three-week high
and the won gained for the fourth straight day after
the country's exports during the first 10 days of February
surged 69.1% from a year earlier.
    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.
    
    HIGHLIGHTS:
    ** Thailand's 10-year government bond yields are up 7 basis
points at 1.38%
    ** Top gainers on Thailand's SETI include Max Metal
Corporation up 100%, Muramoto Electron Thailand
 up 29.66% and Far East Fame Line DDB up
28.11%
    ** In the Philippines, top index losers are Alliance Global
Group down 3.67%, Ayala Corp down 2.43% and
International Container Terminal Services down 2.24%
    
     Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0722 GMT                                      
   COUNTRY      FX RIC    FX DAILY %       FX YTD %       INDEX   STOCKS DAILY %  STOCKS YTD %
    Japan                    -0.16          -1.77                      1.91           9.62
    China                    0.00           +1.09                      0.00           5.24
    India                    +0.20          +0.63                      0.95           9.48
  Indonesia                  +0.43          +0.93                      0.73           4.83
  Malaysia                   +0.14          -0.37                      0.84          -0.89
 Philippines                 +0.27          +0.21                     -0.45          -2.53
   S.Korea                   +0.51          -1.38                      1.50           9.52
  Singapore                  +0.09          -0.19                      0.27           3.15
   Taiwan                    0.00           +0.33                      0.00           7.26
  Thailand                   -0.03          +0.30                      1.34           5.46
 
 (Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; Editing by Himani
Sarkar)
  
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