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EMERGING MARKETS-Indonesia's rupiah firms as c.bank seen holding rates steady

    * Investors eye c.bank meeting in Indonesia later today
    * Taiwan dollar at a nearly 1-1/2 months high
    * Emerging Asian currencies strengthen on weaker dollar

    By Harish Sridharan
    April 20 (Reuters) - The Indonesian rupiah gained on Tuesday
ahead of a Bank Indonesia (BI) policy meeting where the central
bank is widely expected to stand pat on interest rates,
resisting any further easing to foster currency stability.
    Other emerging Asian currencies rose across the board,
reflecting a broadly weaker U.S dollar. South Korea's won
 and the Singapore dollar added 0.5% and 0.3%,
respectively.
    The rupiah, which is among the worst performing
currencies in the region so far this year, advanced 0.3%. Stocks
in Jakarta were down 0.8%.
    The currency has already depreciated more than 3% against
the dollar this year, leaving policymakers wary about delivering
further rates cuts lest it creates rupiah instability and forces
out foreign funds.
    The expected hold on rates "is not a comfortable extension
of policy pause to assess the recovery... Instead, this is a an
uncomfortable compromise at the current constrained status quo,"
analysts at Mizuho said in a note.
    "Risks to rupiah stability necessitate an inconvenient
restraint, especially as signs of stress on the rupiah in recent
weeks raise the stakes of putting through more easing at this
juncture." 
    Mizuho analysts said reports that President Joko Widodo is
backing a bill to expand BI's mandate is seen by many as
diluting the central bank's independence, which in turn is
denting confidence in rupiah-denominated assets.
    Last year, Widodo's administration and some lawmakers
drafted a bill to expand BI's mandate, raising concerns among
foreign investors - who hold a major chunk of the country's debt
- over greater government oversight of the central bank.

    More broadly, the U.S. dollar eased partly as the euro
 strengthened overnight as the vaccination programme in
Europe continues briskly, while U.S Treasury yields
are off their highs reached recently.
    "Bond yields have stalled. There is a optimism here that we
could see a stronger European growth rebound coming and that is
the backdrop that argues for stronger Asian currencies," said
Sim Moh Siong, FX strategist at Bank of Singapore.
    The Taiwan dollar strengthened 0.5% and hit a 1-1/2
month high ahead of export data for March which analysts expect
will rise for a 13th consecutive month.
    
    HIGHLIGHTS   
    ** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields were down 0.7 basis
points at 6.468%
    ** Bank Maspion down 6.9% and among top losers on
the Jakarta stock index
    ** In the Philippines, top index gainer was Puregold Price
Club Inc, up 3.31% 
    
  Asia stock indexes and currencies                         
 at 0422 GMT                                           
 COUNTRY   FX RIC         FX  FX YTD    INDEX  STOCKS  STOCK
                       DAILY       %            DAILY  S YTD
                           %                        %      %
 Japan                 +0.04   -4.50           -1.92   6.06
 China                 +0.24   +0.51             0.29   0.42
 India                 +0.00   -2.42             0.85   3.57
 Indonesi              +0.34   -3.14            -0.78   0.44
 a                                                     
 Malaysia              +0.17   -2.31             0.26  -1.40
 Philippi              +0.16   -0.57             0.39  -9.17
 nes                                                   
 S.Korea               +0.51   -2.28             0.49  11.87
 Singapor              +0.32   -0.43            -0.05  12.81
 e                                                     
 Taiwan                +0.45   +1.44             0.09  17.29
 Thailand              -0.03   -3.97             0.03   8.69
 



 (Reporting by Harish Sridharan in Bengaluru
Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
  
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