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EMERGING MARKETS-Philippine leads Asian equities lower as U.S. bond yields surge

    * Rupiah set for fifth week of losses
    * Taiwan, Indonesia c. banks stand pat on interest rates
    * Philippine central bank to meet next Thursday
    * U.S.-China first high-level talks going on

    By Nikhil Subba and Nikhil Nainan
    March 19 (Reuters) - Philippine shares fell nearly 3% on
Friday, leading declines across Asia, as a rise in U.S. bond
yields continued to sap appetite for the region's equities and
currencies.
    Indonesia's rupiah and Taiwan's dollar fell
around half a percent against a firmer greenback after
their central banks left interest rates unchanged on Thursday.
China stocks fell more than 2%. 
    "Despite short-lived positive mood changers like this week's
FOMC meeting, the medium-term thinking around higher U.S. yields
is holding local currency bulls at bay," said Stephen Innes,
chief global markets strategist at Axi.
    Yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note was
around 1.70%, the highest level they have been since January
last year, and was set to record eight straight weeks of gains. 
    Emerging market central banks in Brazil and Turkey have
aggressively raised interest rates to counter a rise in U.S.
yields to stem capital outflows.
    Back in Asia, Indonesia's rupiah was down 0.4% and was set
for a fifth week of losses, having lost 4% since Feb. 16. 
    So far "in March, most Asian spot exchange rates that we
track have depreciated past their 50- and 100-day moving
averages," DBS analysts said.
    Indonesia's central bank has kept its key rates unchanged at
a record low of 3.50%, but its head of monetary management told
CNBC on Friday that it stands ready to against any currency
volatility.
    "We expect the central bank to remain on hold in the near
term despite inflation falling below the bank's 2%-4% target, as
the currency is expected to remain pressured," said Nicholas
Mapa, a senior economist at ING.
    In a similar move, Taiwan's central bank stood pat on
interest rates, as expected, while raising the export-reliant
island's annual economic growth forecast.
    The Philippine central bank will hold its policy meeting
next Thursday at a time when the country is faced with rising
COVID-19 cases and its stock market is the worst-affected
among its regional peers so far this year. 
    BofA Securities analysts said continued restrictions and
slow vaccine rollout reinforce their view that growth in 2021
will be below the consensus forecast of 5.3%.
    Investors will also be watching the first high-level, in
person talks between the U.S. and Chinese officials since Joe
Biden took over as president. 
    The world's two largest economies have already levelled
sharp rebukes over each other's stance on several policy issues.

            
    HIGHLIGHTS:
    ** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields up 6.2 basis points
to 6.814%
    ** PLDT Inc, Aboitiz Power Corp and SM
Prime Holdings in the Philippines 
    ** The Philippines approved the emergency use of Russia's
Sputnik V vaccine as COVID-19 cases spike     
  Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0636 GMT
 COUNTRY      FX RIC      FX       FX     INDEX    STOCKS   STOCKS
                          DAILY %  YTD %           DAILY %  YTD %
 Japan                    +0.06    -5.12           -1.41    8.56
 China                    -0.05    +0.30           -2.11    -2.40
 India                    +0.01    +0.75           -0.14    3.97
 Indonesia                -0.35    -2.77           -0.53    5.61
 Malaysia                 -0.12    -2.28           -0.40    -0.35
 Philippines              -0.02    -1.36           -2.94    -9.85
 S.Korea                  -0.61    -3.93           -0.86    5.78
 Singapore                +0.05    -1.63           0.08     10.42
 Taiwan                   -0.61    +0.01           -1.34    9.08
 Thailand                 -0.06    -2.85           -0.54    7.66
 
 (Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan and Nikhil Subba in
Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin and Arun Koyyur)
  
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