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EMERGING MARKETS-Indian rupee hits 8-month low as virus cases skyrocket

    * India shares fall nearly 4%, rupee lowest since Aug. 2020
    * S. Korean won, Thai baht weaken 0.5% each
    * Thai shares tumble as virus cases spike

    By Sameer Manekar
    April 12 (Reuters) - India's rupee on Monday plunged below
75 against the U.S. dollar for the first time in eight months
amid a rapid increase in second-wave of coronavirus cases, while
concerns over rising U.S. bond yields hurt broader emerging
Asian markets.
    Weighing on the region's markets were expectations of a
further rise in U.S. yields on a likely strong reading for U.S.
consumer inflation for March, on the heels of a
more-than-expected rise in U.S. producer prices.

    The rupee weakened as much as 0.5% to 75.138, its
lowest since August last year, before recovering to 74.870, as
record cases and a possible lockdown in the western state of
Maharashtra, home to Mumbai, hurt sentiment.
    "Growth differential between the United States and India,
which is driven by improving performance in the U.S. and
deteriorating COVID-19 situation and inflation in India, is
leading the rupee lower," Arnob Biswas, FX research head at SMC
Global Securities said.
    Shares in Mumbai tanked as much as 3.7%, marking
their worst session in more than six weeks.
    In Singapore, stocks declined for the fifth straight
session ahead of the central bank's monetary policy decision on
Wednesday.
    The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is seen keeping
its exchange-rate based policy settings unchanged, a Reuters
poll showed, while a separate poll determined the trade-reliant
economy is expected to contract slightly in the first quarter.

    Prakash Sakpal, an analyst at Dutch bank ING, was more
bullish in his view of Singapore's economy.
    "We expect Singapore to be among the first few Asian
economies reporting positive GDP growth in 1Q, albeit mildly
positive," he said, adding that an electronics-led export surge
was leading the city-state out of last year's record slump.
    South Korea's won weakened 0.5% and Indonesia's
rupiah, which backs some of the highest-yielding debt in
emerging markets, fell to its lowest level since Nov. 3.
    Equities in Malaysia lost up to more than half a
percent, while shares in Thailand, which reported its
biggest daily jump in new COVID-19 cases for a second day in a
row, declined as much as 1.5%.
    Through the week, first-quarter economic performance of
China, Asia's growth powerhouse, as well as corporate earnings
in the United States will also be in focus.
    
    HIGHLIGHTS:
    ** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields rise 5.9 basis points
to 6.512%
    ** South Korean battery makers climb after dispute
settlement over EV battery technology
    ** Tata Motors and Indusind Bank among
top losers in the Nifty 50 index
    
      Asia stock indexes and                      
      currencies at 0653 GMT                    
 COUNTRY   FX RIC     FX     FX    INDE  STOCK  STOCK
                    DAILY   YTD %   X      S    S YTD
                      %                  DAILY    %
                                           %    
  Japan             +0.11   -5.74  <.N2  -0.77  7.63
                                   25>          
  China   <CNY=CFX  +0.03   -0.35  <.SS  -1.18  -1.81
             S>                    EC>          
  India             -0.14   -2.37  <.NS  -3.47  2.42
                                   EI>          
 Indones            -0.27   -3.84  <.JK  -1.92  -0.43
   ia                              SE>          
 Malaysi            -0.05   -2.78  <.KL  -0.37  -1.29
    a                              SE>          
 Philipp            +0.00   -1.09  <.PS  -0.41  -8.70
  ines                              I>          
 S.Korea  <KRW=KFT  -0.33   -3.44  <.KS  0.12   9.12
             C>                    11>          
 Singapo            -0.06   -1.58  <.ST  -0.62  11.28
   re                               I>          
 Taiwan             -0.08   +0.08  <.TW  0.03   14.44
                                   II>          
 Thailan            -0.41   -5.04  <.SE  -1.11  6.88
    d                              TI>          
 
 (Reporting by Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh
Kuber)
  
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