EMERGING MARKETS-Philippine shares rise before meeting; S.Korea bounces back on budget boost

    * Philippine expected to hold rates
    * S. Korean shares snap 4-day losing streak
    * Thai baht drops on bigger-than-expected drop in exports

    By Shruti Sonal
    March 25 (Reuters) - Philippine shares climbed over 1% ahead
of a monetary policy meeting as investors expected the country's
central bank to stick to a dovish tone, while South Korean
shares snapped four days of losses after a budget boost. 
    The Manila benchmark index hit its highest level in
nearly a week. In line with other regional peers, Philippines'
central bank is widely expected to leave its benchmark interest
rate unchanged.
    "BSP is set to continue to cite the need for accommodative
monetary policy conditions as the economy grapples with a
renewed wave of Covid-19 infections and a slow start to its
vaccination drive", Mizuho Bank analysts wrote in a note. 
    Unlike the central banks in countries such as Russia and
Brazil, which have embarked on a monetary tightening cycle,
Asian peers are likely to maintain their dovish stance for some
time, DBS Bank economists said. 
    "Base effects are expected to buoy growth and inflation in
the region this year, but in absence of demand-side pressures
and tighter labour markets, there will be little impetus to
abandon the overall dovish hue". 
     South Korean shares, which had shed nearly 3% in
last four sessions, bounced back after the country's parliament
approved a 14.9 trillion won ($13.13 billion) supplementary
budget to boost aid for small businesses and those taking a hit
from the pandemic.
    Elsewhere, stocks saw muted moves as a sell-off in Chinese
technology shares due to concerns they will be de-listed from
U.S. bourses rattled some investors.
    The U.S. securities regulator is rolling out measures that
would kick foreign companies off U.S. stock exchanges if they do
not comply with U.S. auditing standards, which is widely
expected to target Chinese firms.
    Geopolitical concerns further added to investor caution
after North Korea launched two ballistic missiles into the sea
near Japan, fuelling tensions ahead of the Tokyo Olympics and
ramping up pressure on the new Biden administration in
    Thai stocks pared gains and the baht fell
0.4% after the country's exports in February posted a
bigger-than-expected drop from a year earlier, weighed down by
lower gold shipments.
    ING analysts warned the figures should reinforce the
downside growth risk to the economy, especially with continued
sluggish exports and firmer imports narrowing the trade surplus.
    "Such an economic backdrop and sustained political
uncertainty should keep THB as one of Asia's underperforming
currencies this year", they added. 
    Most other regional currencies weakened against the dollar,
as the greenback hit a fresh four-month high.
    The Indonesian rupiah, the Malaysian ringgit
and the Taiwan dollar all dropped 0.2% each. 
  Asia stock indexes and                                 
 currencies at   0419 GMT                           
                     DAILY  YTD %            DAILY  S YTD
                         %                       %      %
 Japan               -0.23  -5.26            0.92   4.46
 China    <CNY=CFX   -0.13  -0.08            -0.01  -3.06
 India               +0.00  +0.70            -0.75   3.28
 Indones             -0.21  -2.84            -1.09   1.84
 Malaysi             -0.15  -2.78            -0.13  -1.65
 Philipp             -0.08  -1.27             1.46  -7.67
 S.Korea  <KRW=KFT   -0.05  -4.23             0.07   4.35
 Singapo             -0.07  -1.94             0.33  10.55
 Taiwan              -0.17  -0.37             0.27   9.12
 Thailan             -0.35  -3.70             0.16   8.56

 (Reporting by Shruti Sonal in Bengaluru; Editing by Ana
Nicolaci da Costa)