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EMERGING MARKETS-Rupiah rises as central bank calms independence fears

    * Graphic: World FX rates tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh
    * Graphic: Foreign flows into Asian stocks tmsnrt.rs/3lKhL5I
    * S. Korean won, Taiwan dollar lead gains in Asian FX
    * Thai shares on track to post weekly gain 

    By Anushka Trivedi
    Sept 18 (Reuters) - Indonesia's rupiah hit a more than
two-week high on Friday, a day after the central bank kept
interest rates unchanged and  supported by reassurances monetary
policy would not be swayed by political influences.
    Helped by a broadly weaker dollar, the rupiah
advanced 0.6% and was set for its best day since Aug. 31 after
three-weeks of local market volatility, which was driven by
concerns about the economy and moves by some lawmakers to change
rules around central bank independence.
    Asked about deliberations in parliament, Governor Perry
Warjiyo said on Thursday President Joko Widodo and Finance
Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati had both pledged that monetary
policy would remain independent.
    Analysts and traders said the bank had settled some nerves
for now, although several stressed that the threats to growth
from a surge in coronavirus cases meant policymakers would be
under pressure to cut rates as soon as possible. 
    "It appears that Bank Indonesia wants to send out a message
about their independence by keeping the rate unchanged," said
Societe Generale economist Kunal Kundu.
    "The question remains whether a weakening economy and lower
growth potential can be ignored going forward."
    Stocks in Jakarta snapped a three day losing run to
gain 0.3%.
    Other regional currencies advanced as lacklustre U.S. jobs
data overnight kept the dollar subdued, with the South Korean
won and the Taiwan dollar firming 1.1% and
0.8%, respectively, to lead gains.
    Asian stocks ignored a weak finish on Wall Street to rise,
with Malaysia and Thai equities rising 0.4% and
0.1%.
    The Bangkok market was set for its first weekly gain in
three, while the baht was on course to appreciate for a
second straight week, ahead of a central bank meeting next week.
    Thailand's tourism- and export-reliant economy has been
reeling from weakened demand amid the coronavirus pandemic,
though the recent removal of most virus restrictions has given
markets some hope.
    "In my view we have seen the worst of the capital outflows
from Thailand," said Nader Naeimi, head of dynamic markets at
AMP Capital.
    "The most significant catalyst for foreign inflows from here
is success in phase-three COVID vaccine trials," he said, adding
that conditions for an upturn in markets were in place.
    
    HIGHLIGHTS
    
    ** Malaysia's 3-year benchmark yield is up 1.1
basis points at 1.942%
    ** Top gainers on the Thailand's SETI include Food
and Drinks PCL up 15% and Union Pioneer PCL up
14.78%
    ** In the Philippines, top index losers are Universal Robina
, down 2.26%, Ayala Land down 1.75% and
Puregold Price Club, down 1.53% 
    
    
   Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0505 GMT                                    
   COUNTRY      FX RIC     FX DAILY %    FX YTD %    INDEX    STOCKS DAILY %  STOCKS YTD %
    Japan                    -0.05        +3.66                    0.15          -1.27
    China                    +0.14        +3.08                    0.57           7.83
    India                    +0.41        -2.69                    0.36          -5.02
  Indonesia                  +0.58        -5.80                    0.19          -19.87
  Malaysia                   +0.29        -0.87                    0.44          -4.34
 Philippines                 +0.12        +4.69                   -0.87          -24.61
   S.Korea                   +1.13        -0.42                   -0.03           9.45
  Singapore                  +0.04        -0.86                   -0.20          -22.56
   Taiwan                    +0.79        +3.53                    0.15           7.46
  Thailand                   +0.16        -3.95                    0.09          -18.63
    

 (Reporting by Anushka Trivedi, Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru
and Scott Murdoch in Hong Kong; Editing by Patrick Graham and
Sam Holmes)
  
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