EMERGING MARKETS-Indonesian rupiah firm as holds rates to support FX stability

    * Indonesian keeps rates unchanged at 3.5%
    * Emerging Asian currencies strengthen on weaker dollar
    * Indian shares recover as vaccination drive expands

    By Harish Sridharan
    April 20 (Reuters) - The Indonesian rupiah held firm on Tuesday after
the central bank kept interest rates at a record low, as widely expected,
resisting any further easing to foster currency stability.   
    The rupiah strengthened 0.4% to 14,485 per dollar after Bank
Indonesia's (BI) decision to stand pat on rates. Stocks in Jakarta
recovered slightly, trimming losses to trade 0.3% lower. 
    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 decision itself was not a surprise, given the pressure on the
rupiah in recent weeks," said Mitul Kotecha, chief EM Asia & Europe
strategist at TD Securities. 
    "The fact that there have been signs of some improvement in activity
reduced some of the pressure to ease further," he added.
    BI reaffirmed its commitment to stabilise the rupiah and said the
current rate of exchange and government bond yields were attractive,
ensuring that capital inflows would come and further support the
    Analysts at Mizuho earlier said that reports 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.
    Other emerging Asian currencies strengthened 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 Taiwan dollar held 0.4% firmer ahead of March export
data, which analysts expect will rise for a 13th consecutive month.

    Stocks in the Philippines, Malaysia and Taiwan
gained, while equities in Singapore fell and delivered their worst
session in nearly three weeks.
    Indian shares edged higher after a sharp drop in the previous
session, as the country ramped up vaccinations to counter a surge in
COVID-19 cases that prompted restrictions in major cities and rattled
    ** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields are down 4.7 basis points at
    ** In the Philippines, top index gainer was Universal Robina Corp
, up 5.34%
    ** Singapore Airlines Ltd down -2.68% and top loser on the
Singapore STI 
  Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0613 GMT                          
                                                             DAILY  S YTD
                                                                 %      %
 Japan                           -0.06      -4.60           -1.97   6.03
 China                           +0.25      +0.52             0.30   0.43
 India                           +0.26      -2.17             0.22   2.93
 Indonesia                       +0.34      -3.14            -0.84   0.38
 Malaysia                        +0.17      -2.31             0.24  -1.42
 Philippines                     +0.16      -0.57             0.63  -8.95
 S.Korea                         +0.49      -2.29             0.58  11.97
 Singapore                       +0.32      -0.43            -0.42  12.39
 Taiwan                          +0.38      +1.37             0.35  17.59
 Thailand                        +0.00      -3.94             0.10   8.77

 (Reporting by Harish Sridharan in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry