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EM ASIA FX-Asian currencies firm on stronger chances for U.S. rate cuts

By Rashmi Ashok

* Dollar weakens after weak U.S. manufacturing data * Yuan gains after firm August services activity data * Malaysian ringgit higher on surprise rise in July exports (Adds text, updates prices) By Rashmi Ashok Sept 4 (Reuters) - Emerging Asian currencies rose on Wednesday after weak U.S. manufacturing readings dented the dollar, while the yuan found support from a survey showing robust services sector activity in China last month. The greenback pulled back from a two-year peak after data showed U.S. manufacturing activity contracted for the first time in three years last month, prompting investors to raise bets on further rate cuts by the Federal Reserve this year. The dollar stood 0.1% lower at 98.925 against a basket of six major currencies by 0529 GMT. After a firm open, the Chinese onshore yuan rose 0.2% to 7.166 against the dollar, moving off the 11-year lows it had clung to recently. Yet again, the central bank's official midpoint fix was stronger than expected, which added to the yuan's support. Sentiment was also helped by a private survey showed China's services sector expanded at the fastest pace in three months in August as new orders rose, prompting the biggest increase in hiring in over a year. "Overall, Asian FX may receive a get-out-of-jail card for today, if the markets continue to focus on USD weakness," analysts at OCBC wrote in a note. However, they added that given the fragility of the global economy outside the United States, the dollar's vulnerability overnight may prove to be transient. The Indian rupee recovered 0.3% after a sharp drop in the previous session, while the Korean won added 0.5%. The Malaysian ringgit firmed 0.3% after data showed the country's exports rose unexpectedly in July, rebounding from a drop in the previous month. The exports were lifted by solid demand for manufactured goods and higher shipments to China. The Indonesian rupiah logged a 0.3% gain, while the Thai baht rose 0.2%. The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against the dollar at 0535 GMT. CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR Currency Latest bid Previous day Pct Move Japan yen 106.020 105.92 -0.09 Sing dlr 1.390 1.3902 +0.03 Taiwan dlr 31.375 31.432 +0.18 Korean won 1210.200 1215.6 +0.45 Baht 30.595 30.66 +0.21 Peso 52.120 52.2 +0.15 Rupiah 14180.000 14220 +0.28 Rupee 72.170 72.40 +0.32 Ringgit 4.209 4.22 +0.26 Yuan 7.166 7.1788 +0.18 Change so far in 2019 Currency Latest bid End 2018 Pct Move Japan yen 106.020 109.56 +3.34 Sing dlr 1.390 1.3627 -1.95 Taiwan dlr 31.375 30.733 -2.05 Korean won 1210.200 1115.70 -7.81 Baht 30.595 32.55 +6.39 Peso 52.120 52.47 +0.67 Rupiah 14180.000 14375 +1.38 Rupee 72.170 69.77 -3.33 Ringgit 4.209 4.1300 -1.88 Yuan 7.166 6.8730 -4.09 (Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)