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EM ASIA FX-Most Asian units dip, baht lower ahead of rate decision

By Ambar Warrick

* Chinese yuan sole gainer on strong midpoint fix * Philippine peso drops as Sept trade deficit widens * Markets await clarity on Sino-U.S. tariff concessions (Adds text, updates prices) By Ambar Warrick Nov 6 (Reuters) - Most emerging Asian currencies eased on Wednesday with the Thai baht dropping ahead of a central bank policy rate decision, while the Chinese yuan firmed below 7 per dollar after the People's Bank of China fixed the daily midpoint at its strongest level for three months. Regional markets tested gains made earlier in the week as investors awaited concrete details from the Sino-U.S. trade front, with a report suggesting that the United States was considering certain tariff concessions on China. China is also insisting that the United States remove tariffs imposed in September as a part of the "phase one" trade deal, which is expected to be signed this month at a yet-to-be-determined location. "Market sentiment has turned a bit more tentative on latest trade war news," OCBC said in a note to clients, adding that if Chinese insistence for concessions represented a "hardened stance," then the chances of a deal were less likely than markets expected. The Philippine peso fell 0.32%, leading losses among its peers after data showed that Philippine's trade deficit widened in September from the prior month. Markets however, expect a rebound in the country's third-quarter GDP, according to a Reuters poll. The reading is due on Thursday. The Indonesian rupiah dipped 0.25%, with the currency holding at a level of about 14,000 a dollar. The country's vice finance minister on Wednesday said the government will support economic growth using the state budget, following a weak GDP reading on Tuesday. Bucking the trend, the Chinese yuan rose about 0.13% after the People's Bank of China set its yuan midpoint at a three-month high. The currency was also trading below its crucial 7 to a dollar level, having marked strong gains on the perceived progress in Sino-U.S. trade negotiations. THAI BAHT Thailand's baht fell about 0.23%, ahead of a central bank policy rate decision expected at 0705 GMT. A slim majority of economists expect the bank to hold its benchmark interest rate unchanged, according to a Reuters poll. The bank had unexpectedly cut rates in August to shore up inflation and to rein in a robust baht, which weighs on the country's key exports. "Despite benign inflation and worsening growth, the balanced macro-economic case for a rate cut is somewhat less urgent, as fiscal stimulus buys time," Mizuho said in a note to clients. "Nonetheless, another cut by end-2019 is not ruled out; in particular if there are delays in infrastructure investment projects or the exports slump worsens unexpectedly." The baht is the best performing emerging Asian currency to date. The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against the dollar on Wednesday. CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR Change on the day at 0515 GMT Currency Latest bid Previous day Pct Move Japan yen 109.060 109.15 +0.08 Sing dlr 1.358 1.3581 +0.01 Taiwan dlr 30.375 30.371 -0.01 Korean won 1157.600 1157.5 -0.01 Baht 30.250 30.18 -0.23 Peso 50.600 50.44 -0.32 Rupiah 14000.000 13965 -0.25 Rupee 70.888 70.69 -0.28 Ringgit 4.134 4.129 -0.12 Yuan 6.996 7.0058 +0.15 Change so far in 2019 Currency Latest bid End 2018 Pct Move Japan yen 109.060 109.56 +0.46 Sing dlr 1.358 1.3627 +0.35 Taiwan dlr 30.375 30.733 +1.18 Korean won 1157.600 1115.70 -3.62 Baht 30.250 32.55 +7.60 Peso 50.600 52.47 +3.70 Rupiah 14000.000 14375 +2.68 Rupee 70.888 69.77 -1.58 Ringgit 4.134 4.1300 -0.10 Yuan 6.996 6.8730 -1.75 (Reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)