EMERGING MARKETS-Philippine shares set for worst week in six on virus spike, recovery concerns

    * Asian stock markets:
    * Philippines records highest daily rise in COVID-19 cases
nearly 6 months 
    * Indonesia poised to end higher for 6th week

    By Shruti Sonal
    March 12 (Reuters) - Philippine shares slipped on Friday to
be on track for their worst week in six, as a spike in
coronavirus cases and a slump in monthly imports led to concerns
over recovery in its economy. 
    The benchmark index shed 0.2% and eyed a weekly fall
of over 2.5%, its biggest decline since the week ended January
    The Philippine economy was among the fastest growing in the
region before the pandemic, but strict and lengthy restrictions
and slow vaccine procurements have dampened the path to
    The country, which has the second-highest number of COVID-19
cases and deaths in Southeast Asia, recorded its highest daily
increase in COVID-19 cases in nearly six months on Thursday.

     Its trade deficit came in at $2.42 billion in January, the
widest in 12 months, with imports sliding 14.9%, and exports
falling 5.2% for their biggest decline in five months,
government data showed on Friday.
    "The ongoing slump in imports suggests that growth pains for
the Philippines will be around for some time", said ING
economist Nicholas Mapa. 
    Authorities attempted to calm investors' nerves. President
Rodrigo Duterte said on Thursday the economy should be reopened
soon, while the central bank is not inclined to tighten monetary
policy at this time, its governor said.
     Elsewhere, equities tracked broader market gains after U.S.
President Joe Biden signed a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill into
law, and as a retreat in bond yields overnight soothed global
concerns about accelerating inflation.
    Shares in South Korea and Indonesia added
about 1% each, while Thailand climbed 0.5%. Jakarta's
benchmark was poised to end higher for a sixth straight week. 
    Most regional currencies strengthened against the dollar as
calming bond markets lifted investor sentiment and boosted
appetite for riskier Asian currencies.
    The Taiwan dollar, South Korean won and
the Indonesian rupiah gained between 0.1% and 0.3%.
    Further soothing nerves about rising yields, the European
Central Bank said on Thursday it would accelerate money-printing
to keep a lid on euro zone borrowing costs.
    ** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields are down 5.6 basis
points at 6.7%
    ** Top gainers on the Jakarta stock index include
Zebra Nusantara Tbk PT, Trimegah Sekuritas Indonesia
Tbk PT, Cahaya Bintang Medan Tbk PT 
    ** Thai PM, cabinet cancel Friday's scheduled AstraZeneca
  Asia stock indexes and                                 
 currencies at   0345 GMT                          
                     DAILY  YTD %         DAILY %   YTD %
 Japan               -0.20  -5.03  <.N22   1.18     7.70
 China    <CNY=CFX   +0.10  +0.62  <.SSE     0.38   -0.67
          S>                       C>              
 India               +0.00  +0.22  <.NSE     0.00    8.53
 Indones             +0.14  -2.33  <.JKS     1.01    5.83
 ia                                E>              
 Malaysi             -0.27  -2.33  <.KLS    -0.55   -0.42
 a                                 E>              
 Philipp             +0.13  -0.83  <.PSI    -0.22   -6.10
 ines                              >               
 S.Korea  <KRW=KFT   +0.30  -4.09  <.KS1     1.21    6.15
          C>                       1>              
 Singapo             -0.20  -1.58  <.STI     0.01    9.24
 re                                >               
 Taiwan              +0.45  +1.31  <.TWI     0.31   10.16
 Thailan             -0.36  -2.25  <.SET     0.25    8.94
 d                                 I>              

 (Reporting by Shruti Sonal in Bengaluru; Editing by Muralikumar