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EMERGING MARKETS-Taiwan dollar shrugs off potential manipulation tag; other Asian FX gain

    * Graphic: World FX rates tmsnrt.rs/2RBWI5E
    * Investors turn short on most Asian currencies- poll
    * U.S. may label Taiwan a currency manipulator- c.bank gov
    * India, Indonesia closed for holiday

    By Shruti Sonal
    March 11 (Reuters) - The Taiwan dollar strengthened on
Thursday even as the country's central bank warned of a
potential U.S. scrutiny of its monetary policy, while other
emerging Asian currencies gained as easing inflation fears and
falling Treasury yields hurt the greenback.
    The Taiwan dollar, among the best performing
currencies in the region this year, added 0.6%.
    Taiwan's central bank said it bought a net $39.1 billion to
intervene in the foreign exchange market, as it stepped up
efforts in November and December to "avoid serious disorder",
possibly putting the trade-dependent island in Washington's
crosshairs to be labelled a manipulator.
    Most other currencies also gained as the U.S. dollar
languished near one-week lows. The South Korean won
climbed 0.6%, while the Thai baht added 0.4%.
    However, the long-term outlook for the region's currencies
remained less than rosy. 
    A Reuters poll showed investors cut long bets sharply on the
Chinese yuan, while turning short on most other Asian
currencies, as improving prospects of economic growth in the
United States and the recent rise in yields have bolstered the
dollar.
    Bets on the South Korean won, the Singapore
dollar and the Malaysian ringgit all turned
bearish for the first time since early last summer.
    Most equities climbed higher, tracking gains on Wall Street
overnight after benign consumer price data for February calmed
inflation fears and Congress gave final approval to one of the
largest economic stimulus measures in U.S. history.
    The South Korean benchmark climbed over 2% after
five consecutive sessions of declines, while Taiwan and
Singapore added 1.6% and 0.9% respectively.
    Thai shares hit their highest in nearly two months
as consumer confidence increased for the first time in three
months in February, bolstered by an easing coronavirus outbreak,
government stimulus and the distribution of vaccines.

    Investors also kept an eye on a possible improvement in
U.S.-China relations. The U.S. Secretary of State will meet with
top Chinese officials on March 18, the first high-level
in-person contact between the two countries under the Biden
administration, the White House said on Wednesday.
    "Regional markets have seized on hopes that Sino-U.S.
relations could be about to improve, which will be bullish for
trade and, by default, positive for Asia," said Jeffrey Halley,
senior market analyst at OANDA.
    Philippine shares though slid about 1.4%, which ING
analyst Nicholas Mapa attributed to foreign selling as the
country records a pickup in COVID-19 infections.
    Markets in India and Indonesia were closed for holidays.
    
    Highlights:
    
    ** Thailand's 10-year government bond yields are down 6
basis points at 1.72%
    ** Top gainers on the Singapore STI include Genting
Singapore Ltd, Thai Beverage PCL, Mapletree
Commercial Trust
    
  Asia stock indexes and currencies at                           
   0645 GMT                                              
 COUNTRY    FX RIC        FX  FX YTD %    INDEX  STOCKS    STOCKS
                       DAILY                      DAILY     YTD %
                           %                          %  
 Japan                 -0.33     -5.06            0.60     6.44
 China      <CNY=CFX   +0.14     +0.48             1.73     -1.65
            S>                                           
 India                     -     +0.22                -      8.53
 Indonesia                 -     -2.47                -      4.78
 Malaysia              +0.32     -2.24            -0.59      0.18
 Philippin             +0.06     -1.07            -1.31     -5.89
 es                                                      
 S.Korea    <KRW=KFT   +0.60     -4.38             1.88      4.88
            C>                                           
 Singapore             +0.00     -1.67             0.90      9.27
 Taiwan                +0.30     +0.86             1.68      9.82
 Thailand              +0.39     -2.09             0.32      8.88
  
    

 (Reporting by Shruti Sonal in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil
D'Silva)
  
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