EMERGING MARKETS-Singapore dollar gains after holds fire, most Asian currencies rise

    * Singapore keeps monetary policy settings unchanged
    * S. Korean won firms 0.7%
    * Bank of Korea to keep rates steady - Reuters poll

    By Sameer Manekar
    April 14 (Reuters) - Singapore's dollar firmed on Wednesday
after the central bank, encouraged by better-than-expected
economic growth, stood pat on monetary policy, while most
emerging Asian currencies gained as investors were unalarmed by
higher than expected U.S. inflation.
    The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), which lets the
local dollar rise or fall against currencies of its main trading
partners within an undisclosed band, left its accommodative
policy stance unchanged, as expected. 
    Preliminary data released on Wednesday showed Singapore's
economy unexpectedly grew 0.2% year on year in the first
quarter, and the MAS said it expects growth to exceed the upper
end official forecast range of 4-6%.
    That pushed the Singapore dollar up as much as 0.3%
to S$1.3370, its highest in a nearly six weeks.
    "Confirmation that the MAS has an improved outlook has
raised the possibility that it could undo some of the easing -
perhaps as soon as October - if economic conditions strengthen,"
analysts at Singapore bank DBS said.
    "All in, this puts downward pressure on SGD rates relative
to USD rates. In level terms, however, we still see SGD rates
tracking USD rates broadly higher over the medium term."
    Equities in the city-state were down 0.2%, losing
some ground gained in the previous session.
    The U.S. dollar fell to a three-week low after data
showed U.S. consumer prices gained slightly more than expected
in March, which investors read as a transitory rise rather than
a sign of an overheating economy.
    Fears about accelerating inflation have supported gains in
U.S. Treasury yields and the dollar this year.
    The South Korean won strengthened as much as 0.7%
to mark its best day in more than a week, while the Malaysian
ringgit and the Philippine peso rose 0.2% each.
    South Korean stocks traded flat ahead of a central
bank meeting on Thursday where the Bank of Korea is expected to
keep its interest rates unchanged, according to a Reuters poll.

    Shares in Jakarta gained after three consecutive
days of losses, jumping as much as 1.2% on their best day in
nearly three weeks.
    Meanwhile, a Reuters poll showed Indonesia's trade surplus
narrowed in March on rising imports.
    Markets in India and Thailand were closed for a holiday.
    ** S. Korea's most liquid 3-year treasury bond yield fell
2.6 basis points to 1.113%
    ** Singapore's Grab to go public in world's biggest $40 bln
SPAC merger
    ** India's second wave of coronavirus poses credit-negative
threat - Moody's
  Asia stock indexes and                            
 currencies at   0400 GMT                      
                     DAILY   YTD     X      S  S YTD
                         %     %        DAILY      %
 Japan               +0.15  -5.1  <.N2  -0.43  7.89
                               9  25>          
 China    <CNY=CFX   +0.08  -0.1  <.SS   0.15  -2.05
          S>                   8  EC>          
 India                0.00  -2.6  <.NS   0.00   3.74
                               6  EI>          
 Indones             +0.00  -3.8  <.JK   1.10   0.22
 ia                            4  SE>          
 Malaysi             +0.12  -2.6  <.KL  -0.10  -1.91
 a                             2  SE>          
 Philipp             +0.17  -0.9  <.PS   0.03  -9.53
 ines                          7  I>           
 S.Korea  <KRW=KFT   +0.63  -2.9  <.KS   0.20  10.50
          C>                   2  11>          
 Singapo             +0.28  -1.2  <.ST  -0.27  11.79
 re                            3  I>           
 Taiwan              +0.05  +0.1  <.TW  -0.86  13.22
                               2  II>          
 Thailan              0.00  -4.8  <.SE   0.00   6.33
 d                             6  TI>          

 (Reporting by Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon