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EMERGING MARKETS-Thai baht dips ahead of rate decision, Asia shares hold small gains

    * Graphic: World FX rates tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh
    * Economists expected Thai central bank to stay on hold
    * Thai central bank decision expected around 0700 GMT
    * Indonesia, Philippine central banks to meet on Thursday 

    Nov 18 (Reuters) - The Thai baht inched lower on Wednesday
ahead of a central bank meeting where rates are expected to be
kept on hold but policymakers may voice concern over the
currency's recent strength.
    Broader Asian stock markets, meanwhile, held onto modest
gains despite a global pullback in equities.
    Stocks in Manila and Singapore rose around a
third of a percent, while in Jakarta they rose 0.5% as
investors bank on the region's relative success in controlling
the pandemic to fuel a stronger economic recovery. 
    Relief over coronavirus vaccine developments over the last
week has been overshadowed by a surge in cases globally and
fresh social restrictions that threaten to wreck any immediate
hopes for a recovery. Soft U.S. retail sales overnight signalled
the fragile economic situation and sent Wall Street lower.
    "The market remains weighing the concerns between this
vaccine optimism and the continued virus spread," said Jingyi
Pan, a senior market strategist at IG in Singapore. 
    Thailand's central bank is set to leave rates at a record
low of 0.5% as GDP earlier this week showed signs that the worst
may be over.
    Over November, Thai stocks have jumped over 13%,
while the currency has gained around 3% on the dollar, leading
some to question whether the baht's strength would hamper a
recovery for the tourism-and trade-reliant economy. 
    On Wednesday, the baht dipped 0.3% and stocks, the region's
worst performer this year, rose 0.4%. 
    "Recent baht strength has been a cause for concern," Mizuho
said in a note, adding that the Bank of Thailand "may choose to
send some signals about addressing baht concerns at this
meeting."
    The rupiah, a favourite among foreign investors
looking at Indonesia's high-yielding bond market, fell 0.2%.
    Bank Indonesia is slated to keep its benchmark 7-day reserve
repurchase rate steady at 4% on Thursday, for the
fourth straight meeting.
    Philippine's central bank is also meeting on Thursday to
decide rates.     

           Asia stock indexes and currencies at   0416 GMT
 COUNTRY      FX RIC       FX       FX      INDEX    STOCKS   STOCKS
                           DAILY %  YTD %            DAILY %  YTD %
 Japan                     +0.07    +4.33            -0.63    9.28
 China                     +0.06    +6.25            0.47     10.02
 India                     +0.00    -4.14            -0.11    5.68
 Indonesia                 -0.21    -1.28            0.46     -11.82
 Malaysia                  +0.15    -0.17            -0.51    0.83
 Philippines               +0.13    +5.07            0.39     -10.61
 S.Korea                   +0.06    +4.57            0.33     15.92
 Singapore                 +0.01    +0.14            0.28     -13.54
 Taiwan                    +1.10    +5.63            1.00     14.44
 Thailand                  -0.26    -1.06            0.40     -14.22
 
 (Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim
Coghill)
  
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