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EMERGING MARKETS-Travel stocks boost Singapore, Asian currencies ease

    * Graphic: World FX rates tmsnrt.rs/2RBWI5E
    * Singapore budget: S$11 bln set aside for COVID-19 relief
    * Indonesia cenbank seen cutting interest rates this week
    * S. Korea stocks, won continue rally

    By Anushka Trivedi
    Feb 16 (Reuters) - Aviation and tourism stocks dominated
gains in Singapore on Tuesday after the city-state pledged more
fiscal support for the hard-hit sectors, while a likely flare-up
in U.S.-China tensions pressured most Asian currencies. 
    Singapore's 2021 budget unveiled S$11 billion ($8.31
billion) for COVID-19 relief and S$870 million in aid for the
aviation sector, sending the Straits Times Index 0.5%
higher a day after the economy posted a smaller-than-expected
contraction in the fourth quarter.
    Shares of Singapore Airlines climbed 1.4% to top
the index, while in-flight catering service provider SATS Ltd
 rose 1%. 
    DBS analysts expect the 2021 budget deficit target to be
between S$10 billion and S$12 billion, sharply down from the
record S$74.2 billion figure pencilled in last year to aid the
economy. The official figure was yet to be released as the
presentation was ongoing.
    In line with global markets, hopes that vaccine progress
would aid an economic recovery kept all Asian equities in the
black, with Philippine shares climbing 1.2% to lead
gains.
    On the flip side, the Singapore dollar, the
Philippine peso and the Indonesian rupiah fell
after the offshore yuan weakened on media reports that
Beijing may curb exports of rare earth minerals that are crucial
to U.S. defence contractors.    
    The development threatens to worsen ties between the two
economic giants, which are yet to show any signs of improvement
under U.S. President Joe Biden's administration.
    The rupiah was also hit by investors pricing in a likely 25
basis point interest rate cut at the Bank Indonesia's (BI)
meeting on Thursday.
    Meanwhile, South Korea's won rose for a fifth day
and the benchmark stock index KOSPI closed at a
three-week high as its government struck a deal with Novavax
 and Pfizer to get vaccines for 23 million more
people.         
    China and Taiwan's financial markets were closed for a
holiday.
    
    HIGHLIGHTS
    
    ** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields are up 5.1 basis
points at 6.297%
    ** Thailand and Indonesia shares up 0.3%
    ** Top gainers on the Jakarta stock index include
MNC Land Tbk PT, up 34.3%, and Bank Bumi Arta Tbk PT
, up 24.7%

 Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0759 GMT                                           
 COUNTRY      FX RIC       FX DAILY %   FX YTD %     INDEX  STOCKS DAILY %   STOCKS YTD %
 Japan                          -0.08      -2.09                      1.28          11.02
 India                          -0.11      +0.42                     -0.29           9.21
 Indonesia                      -0.07      +0.86                      0.41           5.30
 Malaysia                       +0.07      -0.22                      0.05          -1.13
 Philippines                    -0.48      -0.34                      1.22          -1.34
 S.Korea                        +0.12      -1.26                      0.52          10.08
 Singapore                      -0.09      -0.23                      0.40           3.49
 Thailand                       +0.03      +0.30                      0.16           5.23
 


($1 = 1.3231 Singapore dollars)

 (Reporting by Anushka Trivedi in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika
Syamnath)
  
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