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EMERGING MARKETS-Most Asian currencies flat, Indian markets hit by virus surge

    * Indian rupee slips to mid-July lows
    * Nifty 50 index down as much as a percent
    * Indonesia's March exports, imports beat forecast

    By Sameer Manekar
    April 15 (Reuters) - Most emerging Asian currencies traded
flat on Thursday as investors awaited key economic data from the
United States, while Indian stocks and the rupee eased as a
massive second wave of coronavirus cases weighed on sentiment.
    Currencies such as the Malaysian ringgit and the
Philippine peso, which have strengthened against the U.S.
dollar this month, traded in a tight range even as the greenback
 hovered near four-week lows.
    Markets were looking ahead to the release of U.S. weekly
jobless claims and March retail sales data later in the day for
cues on the speed and extent of recovery in the world's largest
economy before adjusting their positions.
    Indian shares gave up initial gains to slip nearly
1%. The rupee, trading after a mid-week break, fell to
its lowest since mid-July after the country reported a record
200,000 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday.

    "A strong political will and public awareness is the best
hope... but that won't spare the economy from a rough ride ahead
amid ongoing macro policy paralysis," ING economist Prakash
Sakpal said.
    "We see the INR possibly giving back all the gains it made
against the USD since early 2020, pushing to 76.80 against the
USD over the next three months."
    South Korea's won softened about 0.2%, losing
some ground gained in the last session after its central bank
left interest rates unchanged on worries rising coronavirus
cases could thwart economic recovery.
    Equities in Indonesia slipped 0.2% after its March
trade surplus narrowed, largely in line with a Reuters poll, as
exports and imports jumped higher than expected.
    Meanwhile, data showed foreign investors continued to
purchase emerging-market bonds in March, though inflows mainly
focused on South Korean bonds as investors searched for safety
among emerging-market bonds.

    HIGHLIGHTS:    
    ** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields rise 1.4 basis points
to 6.587%
    ** S. Korea's most liquid 3-year treasury bond yield rise
4.7 basis points to 1.149%
    ** Eicher Motors and Infosys biggest
losers on Nifty 50
    
    
  Asia stock indexes and                            
 currencies at   0627 GMT                      
 COUNTRY  FX RIC        FX    FX  INDE  STOCK  STOCK
                     DAILY   YTD     X      S  S YTD
                         %     %        DAILY      %
                                            %  
 Japan               +0.02  -5.1  <.N2  0.07   8.01
                               9  25>          
 China    <CNY=CFX   -0.09  -0.1  <.SS  -0.75  -2.36
          S>                   3  EC>          
 India               -0.11  -2.7  <.NS  -0.71   3.01
                               6  EI>          
 Indones              0.00  -3.8  <.JK  -0.21   0.98
 ia                            4  SE>          
 Malaysi             +0.02  -2.5  <.KL   0.19  -1.59
 a                             7  SE>          
 Philipp             -0.02  -0.9  <.PS   0.26  -8.40
 ines                          5  I>           
 S.Korea  <KRW=KFT   -0.12  -2.8  <.KS   0.44  11.24
          C>                   4  11>          
 Singapo             -0.04  -1.1  <.ST   0.03  11.83
 re                            4  I>           
 Taiwan              +0.13  +0.3  <.TW   1.25  15.91
                               0  II>          
 Thailan              0.00  -4.8  <.SE   0.00   6.33
 d                             6  TI>          
 
    

 (Reporting by Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim
Coghill and Krishna Chandra Eluri)
  
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