EMERGING MARKETS-Asian stocks slip after U.S. data, currencies await Fed

    * Graphic: World FX rates
    * Graphic: Foreign flows into Asian stocks
    * Traders await Powell speech on Thursday
    * Chinese, Singapore shares down 1%
    * Thai baht sees best day in more than 3 weeks

    By Shriya Ramakrishnan
    Aug 26 (Reuters) - Asian stocks drifted lower on Wednesday
as grim U.S. data raised concerns about the global recovery,
while currencies held in tight ranges as investors awaited
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's views on monetary
policy and the economy. 
    Following a day of buoyant gains for stock markets across
the region on signs of progress in U.S.-China trade
negotiations, China and Singapore led early
selling after a wobble on Wall Street overnight.
    With U.S. consumer confidence dropping to a six-year low,
Seoul's export-focused KOSPI index was set to snap a
three-day winning streak and the won dipped as health
authorities warned that South Korea was on the brink of a
nationwide COVID-19 outbreak.
    "Investors are getting increasingly sceptical about this
tech-driven rally in the U.S. There is nothing to be happy about
and the reality is that majority of the businesses are facing a
very difficult time...that's the ugly truth," said Margaret
Yang, a Singapore-based Strategist at DailyFX.
    "The pattern is very defensive and investors are pulling off
their hands from cyclicals showing confidence is very fragile."
    Coronavirus cases also continued to surge in Indonesia and
the Philippines, sending both indexes lower. The Philippines has
the largest number of infections in Southeast Asia, and
Indonesia the highest COVID-19 death toll.

    In currency markets, traders were firmly focused on Powell's
speech on the U.S. central bank's policy framework review, due
at this year's virtual edition of the Jackson Hole symposium on
    Investors are waiting to see if Powell signals a shift in
the Fed's inflation target to an average, which would allow
inflation to rise more quickly than in the past.
    "If Powell's speech turns out to be dovish, that will
sustain the downward momentum in dollar/Asia especially with
most Asian central banks being less dovish," said Frances
Cheung, head of macro strategy for Asia at Westpac.
    India's rupee, which surged on Monday after the
central bank halted a campaign of intervention against the
currency, was steadier at the start of trade as dealers reported
the bank had returned to the market on Tuesday afternoon. 
    The Thai baht was among the top gainers during the
day, rising 0.5% against the dollar, with sentiment getting a
boost from more stimulus measures to support domestic tourism in
Southeast Asia's second-largest economy.
    ** Top losers on FTSE Straits Times Index include
SATS Ltd down 4.5% at S$2.96, United Overseas Bank
 down 2.5% at S$19.55; Singapore Airlines
down 2.1% at S$3.72
    ** Top losers on FTSE Bursa Malaysia Kl Index
include Petronas Chemicals Group Bhd down 2.2% at 5.82
ringgit, Public Bank Bhd down 1.7% at 16.68 ringgit
  Asia stock indexes and                                       
 currencies at   0451 GMT                                
                        DAILY %  YTD %                S   YTD %
 Japan                    -0.03  +2.09            -0.15   -1.67
 China                    +0.10  +0.86            -1.08    9.41
 India                    +0.06  -3.90            -0.04   -5.76
 Indonesi                 -0.14  -5.32            -0.12  -15.35
 Malaysia                 -0.05  -1.90            -0.45   -2.57
 Philippi                 +0.07  +4.42            -0.51  -24.21
 S.Korea                  -0.15  -2.57            -0.05    7.64
 Singapor                 -0.04  -1.75            -0.94  -21.35
 Taiwan                   +0.51  +2.55             0.22    6.58
 Thailand                 +0.45  -4.53             0.38  -16.39

 (Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by
Patrick Graham and Kim Coghill)