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EMERGING MARKETS-Indonesian rupiah drops as import slump fuels growth worries

    * Graphic: World FX rates tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh
    * Graphic: Foreign flows into Asian stocks tmsnrt.rs/3f2vwbA
    * Most Asian FX up against a weaker dollar
    * Glove makers lead gains in Malaysian stocks

    By Shriya Ramakrishnan
    Aug 18 (Reuters) - The Indonesian rupiah bucked gains among
Asian currencies in volatile trade on Tuesday as a slump in
imports stoked worries of a slow economic recovery, while stock
markets across the region tracked gains in the United States and
Japan. 
    Currencies across Asia's emerging markets were broadly
higher, helped by a weaker U.S. dollar and a tech-fuelled rally
on Wall Street overnight. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific
shares outside Japan gained 0.6%.
    The rupiah, however, underperformed, weakening up to
0.8% before paring losses as the current account numbers offered
a mix of signals on its economy. 
    The trade surplus in July was the biggest in nine years, but
came courtesy of a 33% plunge in imports, far steeper than the
22.48% drop predicted in a Reuters poll.
    "Although theoretically the huge trade balance surplus
should be good for the rupiah, investors seem to be shocked to
see such a contraction on imports," said Anthony Kevin, an
economist at Mirae Asset Sekuritas. 
    "It points out that our economic recovery would be very
gradual." 
    Bank Indonesia is due to wrap up a two-day policy review on
Wednesday, with a majority of economists in a Reuters poll
expecting it to keep interest rates unchanged after four
successive cuts this year to revive the economy.
    Shares in Jakarta, in contrast to the rupiah, hit a
more than five-month high, boosted by gains in the financial and
consumer sectors and optimism over a state budget for 2021 that
pointed to higher spending for public works. 
    Philippine shares also staged a sharp rebound, rising
over 1% after two straight days of declines, as strict curbs in
and around the capital Manila eased and data showed a 7.7% rise
in June remittances from workers overseas. 
    Malaysian equities registered their first session of
gains in three, as investors snapped up beaten-down shares of
glove makers after a steep sell-off last week triggered by news
of regulatory approval for a COVID-19 vaccine in Russia. 
    "Even if a vaccine is found for COVID-19 tomorrow, there
will be a need to wear gloves in a number of situations that
didn't exist before," said Gerald Ambrose, Chief Executive
Officer of Kuala Lumpur-based Aberdeen Standard Islamic
Investments. 
     "Demand will be there but of course capacity is expanding
and there will be a peak profit period and peak price but I
don't think we are there yet." 
    
    HIGHLIGHTS:
    ** Top gainers on the Jakarta stock index include
Global Mediacom Tbk PT up 25% at 290 rupiah, Akbar
Indo Makmur Stimec Tbk PT up 24.42% at 214 rupiah
    ** In the Philippines, top index gainers are Robinsons
Retail Holdings Inc up 4.35% at 64.7 peso, DMCI
Holdings Inc up 4.34% at 3.85 peso
    ** Top gainers on FTSE Bursa Malaysia Kl Index
include Hartalega Holdings Bhd up 9.25% at 17 ringgit,
Top Glove Corporation Bhd up 7.85% at 24.18 ringgit
    
    
  Asia stock indexes and                                      
 currencies at   0702 GMT                                
 COUNTRY   FX RIC          FX  FX YTD    INDEX   STOCKS  STOCK
                      DAILY %       %           DAILY %  S YTD
                                                             %
 Japan                  +0.48   +2.97             -0.20  -2.56
 China     <CNY=CFXS    +0.01   +0.46              0.15  12.91
           >                                             
 India                  +0.10   -4.58              0.54  -7.07
 Indonesi               -0.54   -6.22              0.83  -16.0
 a                                                           0
 Malaysia               +0.08   -2.32              0.67  -1.11
 Philippi               +0.08   +4.26              1.44  -21.2
 nes                                                         3
 S.Korea   <KRW=KFTC    +0.08   -2.31             -2.46   6.85
           >                                             
 Singapor               +0.10   -1.60             -0.38  -20.5
 e                                                           1
 Taiwan                 +0.45   +2.43             -0.65   7.29
 Thailand               +0.13   -3.98              0.27  -16.1
                                                             6
 
 (Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Additional
reporting by Liz Lee in Kuala Lumpur; Editing by Patrick Graham
and Arun Koyyur)
  
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