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EMERGING MARKETS-Asian markets mixed; Indonesia c.bank meeting eyed

    * Indian stocks hit more than 2-1/2 month lows
    * Taiwan c.bank says may hike growth forecast
    * Thai stocks gain around 1% despite virus surge

    By Harish Sridharan
    April 19 (Reuters) - Indonesian stocks eased on Monday ahead
of a central bank meeting the following day, while a surge in
coronavirus cases pushed Indian shares down nearly 3% in
early trade.       
    Currency moves in Asia were muted on Monday amid a lack of
major catalysts and ahead of a slew of economic data from across
the region this week.
    Thai, Taiwanese and Singapore shares gained, while
those in Malaysia and the Philippines edged
lower.
    Fresh waves of COVID-19 infections in South and Southeast
Asia have sapped risk appetite in recent days, while recent
weakness in currencies like the Russian rouble and the
Turkish lira has weighed more broadly on emerging
markets.
    Indonesia's stocks and the rupiah will be in
focus early this week as Bank Indonesia (BI) reviews its policy
settings to support economic recovery and maintain stability in
financial markets.
    Analysts expect BI to leave its key policy rate unchanged at
a record low for the rest of the year, according to a Reuters
poll. The bank has held rates steady in recent times to support
the rupiah amid global market uncertainty.
    Though BI maintains the currency is "stable" compared with
its emerging market peers, it has already depreciated 3.5%
against the U.S. dollar this year and is among Southeast Asia's
worst performers.
    "Since currency stability is BI's key mandate, further
policy rate cuts look unlikely this year, especially given that
the economy is also showing a cyclical recovery," Morgan Stanley
analysts said in a note.
    Indonesia has also struggled to sell its bonds as signs of a
robust economic recovery in the United States has driven U.S.
Treasury yields higher and moved capital away from one of the
highest-yielding debt instruments in emerging markets.
    Yields on the U.S. 10-year benchmark eased last
week as markets bought into the U.S. Federal Reserve's
accommodative policy stance, but Morgan Stanley analysts believe
the outlook for Indonesian bonds remains tough.
    "Demand at INDOGB auctions has still been weak, and we think
that, looking ahead, external factors such as US yields will
likely remain uncertain," they said.
    "While the rates differentials between Indonesia and the
U.S. are still wide, without BI hiking rates, the bonds and IDR
would still face sell-off pressure."
    Elsewhere, the Taiwanese dollar strengthened and
equities rose after the island nation's central bank
said it may hike its annual growth forecast.
    In Thailand, stocks gained nearly 1%, even as the
tourism-reliant nation reported another record rise in virus
cases on Sunday.
    India reported a record rise in coronavirus infections of
273,810 on Monday, taking its overall case load past 15 million,
second only to the United States globally.

           
    HIGHLIGHTS
    ** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields are down 6.3 basis
points at 6.443%
    ** Top gainer on the Thailand's SETI is Team
Precision PCL, up 16.02%
    ** Top Glove Corporation Bhd down 2.51% and is the
biggest loser on FTSE Bursa Malaysia Kl Index
    
  Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0450 GMT                           
 COUNTRY       FX RIC       FX DAILY %   FX YTD %    INDEX   STOCKS  STOCK
                                                            DAILY %  S YTD
                                                                         %
 Japan                           +0.11      -4.98           #VALUE!  #VALU
                                                                      E!
 China                           -0.07      +0.04              1.30  -0.05
 India                           -0.63      -2.35             -2.53   1.90
 Indonesia                       +0.07      -3.51             -0.54   1.25
 Malaysia                        -0.10      -2.62             -0.52  -1.68
 Philippines                     -0.12      -0.76             -0.42  -9.41
 S.Korea                         -0.24      -2.93              0.39  11.75
 Singapore                       +0.10      -0.90              0.23  12.85
 Taiwan                          +0.48      +0.98              0.51  17.07
 Thailand                        -0.03      -4.16              1.21   8.16
 
    

 (Reporting by Harish Sridharan in Bengaluru; Editing by
Muralikumar Anantharaman)
  
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