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EM ASIA FX-Asian units muted with investors numb to Sino-U.S. "optimism"

By Ambar Warrick

* "Hope is not a strategy"- Analyst * S. Korean won set to be worst weekly performer * Most currencies set for weekly losses (Adds text, updates prices) By Ambar Warrick Nov 22 (Reuters) - Emerging Asian currencies kept to tight ranges on Friday as markets sought concrete evidence of headway in Sino-U.S. trade negotiations for a "phase-1" deal having become numbed to recent positive headlines. Investors barely reacted to officials saying China was "striving" to reach an interim deal, or reports that it would would invite U.S. trade negotiators for a new round of talks. "Expression of optimism does not constitute evidence of progress as the old saying goes - hope is not a strategy," said Mizuho Singapore's Zhu Huani in a note to clients. Most regional currencies were set for weekly losses due to the uncertainty over prospects for a trade deal, with reports that U.S. Donald Trump would sign a bill to support Hong Kong protesters raising concerns of a negative impact on trade talks with Beijing. The South Korean won was set to be the worst weekly performer with a dip of nearly 1% to the dollar. The currency was likely to mark its worst week since late-September. The currency is particularly sensitive to trade headlines due to South Korea's dependence on electronic exports, and had come under further pressure from reports of U.S. troop withdrawals from the country. The Indonesian rupiah was the largest loser for the day, down about 0.11 percent to the dollar. The Indonesian central bank held its benchmark rate on Thursday, as widely expected, while also lowering cash reserve requirements for local banks to boost liquidity in the country. The Singapore dollar, while slightly stronger on the day, was set to weaken for a third straight week. On the other hand, the Taiwan dollar was among the few outliers set to gain for the week. The currency took some support from a smaller-than-expected drop in export orders in October, data had shown on Monday, pointing to signs of some recovery in global demand for electronics. The Thai baht and Indian rupee were also set to mark small gains for the week. ASIA FOREX POSITIONING Sentiment towards most emerging Asian currencies darkened over the past two weeks, a Reuters poll showed. Long positions on the Chinese yuan were scaled back, while short bets rose on the Indian rupee and Malaysian ringgit. On the other hand, bullish bets on the Singapore dollar rose to their strongest level since Feb. 2018, as data released on Thursday showed the export-reliant economy grew 0.5% in the third-quarter from a year ago, beating the government's advance estimate and in line with a Reuters poll. The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against the dollar on Friday. CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR Change on the day at 0453 GMT Currency Latest bid Previous day Pct Move Japan yen 108.620 108.63 +0.01 Sing dlr 1.362 1.3629 +0.04 Taiwan dlr 30.502 30.524 +0.07 Korean won 1177.600 1178.1 +0.04 Baht 30.200 30.18 -0.07 Peso 50.780 50.82 +0.08 Rupiah 14095.000 14080 -0.11 Rupee 71.738 71.76 +0.03 Ringgit 4.166 4.168 +0.05 Yuan 7.031 7.0287 -0.04 Change so far in 2019 Currency Latest bid End 2018 Pct Move Japan yen 108.620 109.56 +0.87 Sing dlr 1.362 1.3627 +0.02 Taiwan dlr 30.502 30.733 +0.76 Korean won 1177.600 1115.70 -5.26 Baht 30.200 32.55 +7.78 Peso 50.780 52.47 +3.33 Rupiah 14095.000 14375 +1.99 Rupee 71.738 69.77 -2.74 Ringgit 4.166 4.1300 -0.86 Yuan 7.031 6.8730 -2.25 (Reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)