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EMERGING MARKETS-Philippines up ahead of c.bank meet; virus concerns hit Indian stocks

    * Philippine shares climb 1% ahead of c.bank meeting
    * Investors turn bearish on Asian currencies after a year-
poll
    * Rising COVID-19 cases weigh down Indian stocks

    March 25 (Reuters) - Philippine shares rose on Thursday on
expectations that the central bank would maintain its
accommodative monetary policy, while Indian stocks posted sharp
losses as rising coronavirus cases raised fears of fresh
restrictions. 
    In line with other regional peers, Bangko Sentral ng
Pilipinas (BSP) is widely expected to leave its benchmark
interest rate unchanged at its monetary policy meeting later in
the day.
    "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.
    Philippine stocks, which are down nearly 8% for the
year, rose more than 1% to hit their highest level in nearly a
week. 
    "The index is just recovering following heavy selling
pressure over the past two weeks due to a spike in COVID-19
cases and re-instituted travel restrictions," said Jennifer
Lomboy, fund manager at First Metro Asset Management.
    In India, shares fell about 1% as daily COVID-19
cases hit a five-month high in Asia's third-largest economy.

     South Korean shares, which had shed nearly 3% in
the last four sessions, bounced back after the country's
parliament approved a $13.13 billion supplementary budget to
boost aid for small businesses and those taking a hit from the
pandemic.
    Among currencies, the Thai baht fell 0.4% to a
four-month low against the dollar after data showed the
country's exports in February fell more-than-expected from a
year earlier.
    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, with the
Indonesian rupiah, the Malaysian ringgit and the
Taiwan dollar all dropping 0.2%.
    The pressure on the forex front is likely to continue, with
a Reuters poll showing that investors were bearish on all Asian
currencies for the first time in a year and also turned short on
the Chinese yuan after a strong run since last summer.

    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 investors.
    Geopolitical concerns further added to market caution after
North Korea launched two ballistic missiles into the sea near
Japan, fuelling tensions.
    
    
  Asia stock indexes and                                 
 currencies at   0627 GMT                           
 COUNTRY  FX RIC        FX     FX    INDEX  STOCKS  STOCK
                     DAILY  YTD %            DAILY  S YTD
                         %                       %      %
 Japan               -0.19  -5.22            1.14   4.68
 China    <CNY=CFX   -0.14  -0.09            -0.07  -3.12
          S>                                        
 India               -0.05  +0.65            -1.14   2.87
 Indones             -0.21  -2.84            -0.94   1.99
 ia                                                 
 Malaysi             -0.19  -2.83            -0.14  -1.66
 a                                                  
 Philipp             -0.05  -1.24             1.29  -7.83
 ines                                               
 S.Korea  <KRW=KFT   +0.00  -4.18             0.42   4.72
          C>                                        
 Singapo             -0.06  -1.92             0.41  10.63
 re                                                 
 Taiwan              -0.23  -0.42             0.17   9.01
 Thailan             -0.39  -3.73             0.28   8.69
 d                                                  
 
    

 (Reporting by Shruti Sonal in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren
Daniel)
  
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