EMERGING MARKETS-S.Korea leads stocks higher as China data tops expectations, baht firms

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    * S.Korean stocks hit highest since Nov. 4
    * Thai baht at strongest level since Sept. 10
    * Chinese yuan hovers at 3-wk high

    By Arundhati Dutta
    Nov 15 (Businesshala) - South Korean stocks led most of emerging
Asia's equity markets higher on Monday as investors cheered
upbeat economic data from China, while the Thai baht firmed
after the country's government upgraded its 2021 growth outlook.
    Seoul equities climbed as much as 1.2%, hitting
their highest level since Nov. 4, while Taiwan stocks
jumped 0.7% as data showed China's annual growth in retail sales
and industrial output both comfortably beat forecasts.

    Investors will now turn their focus to the virtual meeting here
 between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden
later in the day, with hopes of an easing in ongoing tensions
across a range of issues including tariffs imposed on China
under former President Donald Trump.
    "Even as tariff reductions are not expected out of the
Xi-Biden Summit, there is a lot of expectations for tariffs to
ease in the near-term, " Maybank analysts said in a note.
    "Expectations have been underpinning the Chinese yuan
strength on top of potentially warmer ties between the
two-countries as both economies face intertwined supply-side
bottlenecks."
    The Chinese yuan hovered at a three-week high
against the dollar.
    On the downside, Malaysian stocks dropped 0.7%, with
losses in consumer staples driving the fall. Singapore stocks
 added 0.4%.
    The Thai baht firmed by 0.4% and was at its
strongest in over two months, while stocks rose 0.5%.
Thailand's economy contracted less than expected in the third
quarter, prompting authorities to upgrade the nation's 2021
growth outlook to 1.2%. 
    The baht was helped by more foreign fund inflows into Thai
assets due to a brightening economic outlook, which could be
seen from falling COVID-19 cases and deaths, Poon Panichpibool,
a market strategist at Krung Thai Bank said.
    The Malaysian ringgit, Taiwanese dollar and
Indonesian rupiah firmed 0.2%, each.
    
    HIGHLIGHTS:
    ** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields are down 0.4 basis
points at 6.196%​​
    ** Malaysia's 10-year benchmark yield is up 0.4 basis points
at 3.575%
    ** Consumer staples drive Malaysian stock benchmark lower
    
 Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0501 GMT                                          
 COUNTRY      FX RIC      FX DAILY %    FX YTD %     INDEX  STOCKS DAILY %  STOCKS YTD %
 Japan                         +0.00       -9.32                      0.43          8.35
 China                         -0.06       +2.29                     -0.29          1.61
 India                         +0.14       -1.71                      0.33         29.91
 Indonesia                     +0.18       -1.18                     -0.32         10.88
 Malaysia                      +0.17       -3.30                     -0.50         -6.37
 Philippines                   -0.24       -3.85                     -0.62          2.77
 S.Korea                       -0.07       -7.98                      1.02          4.37
 Singapore                     -0.01       -2.28                      0.20         13.75
 Taiwan                        +0.16       +2.49                      0.58         19.60
 Thailand                      +0.31       -8.41                      0.26         13.02
 
    

 (Reporting by Arundhati Dutta in Bengaluru
Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
  
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