EMERGING MARKETS-Most Asian currencies gain, S.Korea’s won and Thai baht lead

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    * S.Korea's won, Thai baht firm 0.5% each
    * Singapore dollar at 3-week high
    * Singapore's MAS unexpectedly tightens monetary policy
    * Indonesian rupiah scales 5-mth high

    By Sameer Manekar
    Oct 14 (Businesshala) - Most Asian currencies firmed modestly
against the U.S. dollar on Thursday, with the South Korean won
and the Thai baht taking the lead, and Singapore's dollar
appreciating slightly after the central bank unexpectedly
tightened monetary policy.
    The Singapore dollar firmed 0.3% to hit a three-week
high after the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) tightened
policy for the first time since October 2018 as the threat of
inflation outweighed growth risks posed by the coronavirus.

    The MAS, which manages its policy via exchange rate settings
rather than interest rates, letting the local dollar rise or
fall within an undisclosed band, slightly raised the slope of
the policy band on Thursday from zero percent previously.
    "The MAS anticipates concurrent build-up in inflationary
pressures as demand recovery conspires with
capacity/supply-chain kinks and higher cost-push," analysts at
Mizuho Bank said in a note.
    "Whilst recovery thus far has fallen short of levels
consistent with past Singapore dollar slope reinstatement, a
backdrop of growing inflation risks in quarters ahead, alongside
adequate recovery, incentivise to pre-emptive normalization."
    Meanwhile, preliminary data released separately showed
Singapore's economy grew 6.5% in the third quarter, broadly in
line with economists' forecast.
    The U.S. dollar index touched its lowest this week at
93.987 against major peers on Thursday after data showed U.S.
consumer prices increased solidly in September, affirming the
view that normalisation by the Federal Reserve is imminent.

    "The release of the Fed minutes has reaffirmed expectations
that tapering may begin towards the end of the year in 'either
mid-November or mid-December', Yeap Jun Rong, a market
strategist at IG said.
    Elsewhere in Asia, Indonesia's rupiah firmed 0.4% to
touch an over 5-month high, while equities jumped 1.4%
to scale an over two-year high as the holiday island of Bali
reopened to foreign tourists after 18 months of pandemic hiatus.

    Indonesia, Southeast Asia's biggest economy and an exporter
of thermal coal, is benefiting from a global energy crunch that
is pushing coal prices to record highs due to a rise in
consumption and supply disruptions.
    South Korea's won and the Thai baht
appreciated about half a percent each, and Malaysia's ringgit
 firmed modestly to hit a one-month high.
    South Korean finance minister said on Thursday the
government was ready to deploy measures to stabilize currency
markets if needed, as the won records a more than 5% decline
since July.
    Among regional equities, the Philippine benchmark
index advanced more than 1% after two straight sessions of
losses, while Malaysian shares slipped half a percent
after seven consecutive days of strong gains.
    
    
    HIGHLIGHTS:    
    ** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields fall 3.7 basis points
to 6.305%
    ** China's factory gate inflation hits record high in
September - nL1N2RA039
    ** Chinese property firms suffer fresh downgrades amid
Evergrande crisis - nL1N2R90AT
    
  Asia stock indexes and                            
 currencies at   0326 GMT                      
 COUNTRY  FX RIC        FX    FX  INDE  STOCK  STOCK
                     DAILY   YTD     X      S  S YTD
                         %     %        DAILY      %
                                            %  
 Japan               -0.26  -9.0  <.N2  1.01   3.58
                               6  25>          
 China                       8  EC>          
 India               +0.00  -3.0  <.NS   0.00  29.90
                               5  EI>          
 Indones             +0.35  -0.8  <.JK   1.38  10.84
 ia                            8  SE>          
 Malaysi             +0.17  -3.1  <.KL  -0.44  -2.08
 a                             8  SE>          
 Philipp             -0.06  -5.1  <.PS   1.52   0.51
 ines                          4  I>           
 S.Korea                     5  11>          
 Singapo             +0.17  -2.1  <.ST   0.03  11.02
 re                            0  I>           
 Taiwan              +0.19  +1.3  <.TW   0.38  11.39
                               9  II>          
 Thailan             +0.48  -9.7  <.SE   0.21  13.65
 d                             3  TI>          
 
 (Reporting by Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru)
  
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