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EMERGING MARKETS-Taiwan leads Asian stocks lower, currencies weaken as Fed signals tapering

    * Taiwan drops nearly 3%, state-owned banks urged to buy
stocks
    * S. Korean stocks hit lowest since April 5
    * Singapore benchmark falls over 1%, hits 7-wk low
    * Indonesian c.bank keeps key rate unchanged at 3.50%

    By Arundhati Dutta
    Aug 19 (Reuters) - Taiwanese stocks led emerging Asian
equities lower on Thursday with a drop of nearly 3%, while
currencies weakened after minutes from the U.S. Federal
Reserve's last meeting showed that tapering of monetary stimulus
could start this year.
    The South Korean won led losses among currencies,
as the dollar hit multi-month highs against peers.
    The minutes from July's policy meeting showed Fed officials
discussed when to taper monthly bond purchases and flagged
stimulus easing could start this year if the U.S. economy
continued to improve.
    However, analysts at ING said in a note that a lot has
happened since the July meeting, including a strong employment
report, doubts over inflation pressures and the resurgence of
COVID-19 taking greater hold. 
    "The upcoming key event is next week's Jackson Hole
Conference where Fed officials will gather and reflect and
debate the latest news and we will be looking out for his (Fed
chief Jerome Powell's) views on the situation," they said. 
    Taiwanese equities closed at a three-month trough,
prompting the finance ministry to urge state-owned banks to buy
stocks to soften the tumble.
    Indonesian shares slumped over 2%, and touched their
lowest level in a month, while the rupiah was at its
weakest in two weeks.
    Indonesia's central bank kept its benchmark interest rate at
3.50%, as expected in a Reuters poll of analysts.
    South Korean stocks fell nearly 2% and hit their
lowest since early April. The benchmark has fallen in the last
nine sessions out of 10. 
    Singapore equities touched a seven-week low, while
the Singapore dollar was at its weakest in a month
against the greenback. 
    Thai stocks were subdued, as a member of the central
bank's monetary policy committee played down the prospect of
rate cuts, saying interest rates have become less effective
managing Thailand's flagging economy.
    The Philippine stock benchmark reversed course and
was trading in the green, despite the country slashing its 2021
growth target due to a two-week lockdown of the capital region
to contain the spread of the Delta variant of coronavirus.

    Indian markets were closed for a public holiday. 
    
    HIGHLIGHTS:
    **Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields are up 0.3 basis
points at 6.325%
    **Malaysia's 3-year benchmark yield is up 0.3 basis points
at 1.913%​​
    **Singapore's 5-year benchmark yield is up 0.1 basis points
at 0.809%
    
    
  Asia stock indexes and currencies                       
 at   0703 GMT                                      
 COUNTRY   FX RIC          FX     FX  INDE  STOCKS  STOCKS
                      DAILY %  YTD %     X   DAILY   YTD %
                                                 %  
 Japan                  -0.11  -6.03  <.N2  -1.10   -0.59
                                      25>           
 China     <CNY=CFXS    -0.18  +0.50  <.SS   -0.56   -0.21
           >                          EC>           
 Indonesi               -0.31  -2.60  <.JK   -2.47   -0.20
 a                                    SE>           
 Malaysia               -0.07  -5.17  <.KL   -0.54   -6.78
                                      SE>           
 Philippi               -0.24  -4.89  <.PS    0.57   -5.90
 nes                                  I>            
 S.Korea   <KRW=KFTC    -0.70  -7.65  <.KS   -1.93    7.81
           >                          11>           
 Singapor               -0.25  -3.15  <.ST   -1.20    8.79
 e                                    I>            
 Taiwan                 -0.44  +1.85  <.TW   -2.68   11.15
                                      II>           
 Thailand               -0.42  -10.3  <.SE    0.03    7.11
                                   6  TI>           
 
 (Reporting by Arundhati Dutta in Bengaluru
Editing by Gareth Jones)
  
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