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EMERGING MARKETS-Asian stocks jittery ahead of Fed meeting; virus cases in India dip

    * Graphic: World FX rates tmsnrt.rs/2RBWI5E
    * Asian stock markets: tmsnrt.rs/2zpUAr4
    * Virus surge dampens risk sentiment across the region
    * South Korea reports better-than-expected economic growth
    * Malaysian stocks eye worst session in 4-weeks

    By Harish Sridharan
    April 27 (Reuters) - Asian stocks lacked direction on
Tuesday, as a surge in virus cases in the region and the U.S.
Federal Reserve's meeting this week kept investors on edge,
while stocks in India gained after new coronavirus cases in the
country retreated from Monday's record levels. 
    Indian equities rose as much as 1% to hit an over
10-day high, with industrials leading the gains, as investors
awaited a slew of quarterly results later in the day.
    The coronavirus crisis in the South Asian country, however,
remained grim even as the daily rise in cases retreated from
record levels on Tuesday, but stayed above the 300,000 mark for
a sixth straight day.
    "That 2021 would usher in a distinct turnaround in the
pandemic situation for the ASEAN-6 (Indonesia, Malaysia,
Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) countries and
India is now confirmed to be a lofty hope," Lavanya
Venkateswaran, Market Economist at Mizuho wrote in a note.  
    "A lot of hope is riding on the vaccination drive in these
countries to stem the spread of COVID-19 but so far, the pace of
vaccinations has been slow and in the case of India, unable to
keep up with the rapid outbreak," she added. 
    Investors will likely avoid making big bets ahead of the
Fed's meeting later this week, where Chair Jerome Powell is
likely to shed light on whether improving economic conditions
warrant a tapering of monetary easing.
    Malaysian shares recorded relatively larger losses,
falling as much as 1.1% and eyeing their worst session in nearly
four weeks. The nation registered 2,776 new COVID-19 cases and
13 deaths on April 26.
    "We are seeing surging coronavirus cases in Malaysia ... And
the trend seems to be rising," said Margaret Yang, strategist at
DailyFX.
    "Border controls are tightening across the Asia-Pacific
region, and with more cases emerging, opening up in the tourism
sector could be delayed further. Tourism-reliant economies such
as Thailand, Philippines ... even Malaysia can be vulnerable
against this headwind," she added 
    Thai stocks edged 0.3% higher, even as the
government shuttered parks, gyms and cinemas in Bangkok, the
epicentre of the latest wave of infections, as Thailand reported
yet another daily record of 15 virus deaths.

    South Korea's economic growth beat expectations in the first
quarter, data showed on Tuesday, as global demand surged and the
government maintained support for ailing small businesses. The
won closed 0.3% higher, while the country's shares
 ended the session marginally lower.
    Equities in Singapore stood firm at 0.1% a day after
the city-state reported higher-than-expected manufacturing
output for March.


Highlights

    ** Top loser on the FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI Index
was Hartalega Holdings Bhd HTHB.KL, down 3.76%
    ** In the Philippines, top index loser was Bloomberry
Resorts Corp, down 3.59%
    ** The biggest gainers in the NSE index were
Hindalco Industries Ltd and Adani Ports and Special
Economic Zone Ltd


  Asia stock indexes and currencies at                           
 0749 GMT                                                  
 COUNTRY      FX RIC          FX     FX     INDEX  STOCKS  STOCKS
                           DAILY  YTD %             DAILY   YTD %
                               %                        %  
 Japan                     -0.19  -4.66             -0.46    5.64
 China                     +0.04  +0.69              0.04   -0.88
 India                     +0.18  -2.03              0.76    4.39
 Indonesia                 -0.03  -3.07             -0.08   -0.32
 Malaysia                  +0.02  -1.83             -1.01   -1.24
 Philippines               -0.15  -0.81             -0.52  -10.97
 S.Korea                   +0.25  -2.18             -0.07   11.90
 Singapore                 -0.04  -0.35              0.09   12.80
 Taiwan                    +0.24  +2.12              0.13   19.44
 Thailand                  +0.13  -4.49              0.31    7.94
 



 (Reporting by Harish Sridharan in Bengaluru;
Editing by Vinay Dwivedi)
  
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