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EM ASIA FX-Most Asian currencies gain as U.S. wages hurt dollar; peso slips

* Taiwan dollar firms ahead of trade data

* China's yuan strengthens ahead of a week of key data

* Investors take a breather from U.S.-China trade tensions

(Adds text, updates prices)

By Nikhil Nainan

July 9 (Reuters) - Most Asian currencies strengthened on

Monday, as the dollar struggled near 3-1/2 week lows after

closely-watched U.S. wages indicators disappointed the market.

Riskier assets globally, including the regional currencies,

took some respite from an escalation of the Sino-U.S. trade

dispute after both countries on Friday slapped tit-for-tat

tariffs on each others' goods.

The dollar index against a basket of six major

currencies was 0.1 percent lower at 93.915.

"The relief is that markets have not lurched down a cliff on

fears of a full-blown trade war... Perhaps on hopes that

returning to the negotiation table to soften the blow is still

an option," Mizuho analysts said in a note.

However, they warned, "the calm after the storm remains as

tentative as it is tenuous, and certainly no lasting relief from

better than expected U.S. jobs data should be expected."

The U.S. economy created more jobs than expected in June,

but steady wage gains pointed to moderate inflation pressures

that should keep the Federal Reserve on a path of gradual

interest rate increases this year.

Taiwan's dollar gained 0.4 percent against its U.S.

peer, hours ahead of exports data which is expected to show

solid, albeit slightly moderating growth.

The Indian rupee, the worst performing Asian

currency this year, was up 0.3 percent. Inflationary concerns

from higher oil prices and the fiscal cost of a recent hike in

minimum support prices, a government program that buys crops

from farmers, are expected to cap gains.

"A confluence of a challenging external environment, high

oil prices and likelihood of expansionary domestic policies

(e.g. recent MSP) keep the August hike risks on the table," DBS

said in a note.

Indonesia's rupiah firmed 0.2 percent to 14,338.

Perry Warjiyo, the country's central bank governor, flagged

U.S.-China trade tensions as a concern to growth.

Bank Indonesia has raised its benchmark rate by 100 basis

points so far this year to defend a fragile rupiah. The

government also recently announced a plan to review capital

goods imports to control the current account deficit.

The Philippine peso slipped to 53.410 against the

dollar after gaining 0.2 percent on Friday.

Data showing stronger-than-expected inflation earlier last

week added to increasing pressure on Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas

to hike rates over and above the two made this year.

Trade data for May, expected on Tuesday, should provide a

cue for investors, after April's deficit widened to a four-month

high and added further strain on the struggling peso.


The Chinese yuan, which has been hit hard

recently amid the intensifying Sino-U.S. trade row, was 0.4

percent firmer at 6.623 per dollar as investors looked ahead to

a data-heavy week.

"Growth remains the mainland's biggest priority hence the

markets will be extremely focused on this week's China tier one

economic data dump which will provide some exacting signpost for

evaluating China's economy," said Stephen Innes, head of trading

APAC at Oanda.

China's foreign exchange reserves unexpectedly rose $1.51

billion in June to $3.112 trillion, bolstered by an increase in

the value of its U.S. Treasury holdings.

Inflation, loans and merchandise trade data are also due

this week.


Change on the day at 0528 GMT

Currency Latest bid Previous day Pct Move

Japan yen 110.450 110.44 -0.01

Sing dlr 1.357 1.3571 +0.04

Taiwan dlr 30.389 30.500 +0.37

Korean won 1111.100 1115.9 +0.43

Baht 33.110 33.17 +0.18

Peso 53.410 53.313 -0.18

Rupiah 14338.000 14365 +0.19

Rupee 68.690 68.87 +0.27

Ringgit 4.033 4.038 +0.12

Yuan 6.623 6.6489 +0.39

Change so far in 2018

Currency Latest bid End 2017 Pct Move

Japan yen 110.450 112.67 +2.01

Sing dlr 1.357 1.3373 -1.42

Taiwan dlr 30.389 29.848 -1.78

Korean won 1111.100 1070.50 -3.65

Baht 33.110 32.58 -1.60

Peso 53.410 49.977 -6.43

Rupiah 14338.000 13565 -5.39

Rupee 68.690 63.87 -7.02

Ringgit 4.033 4.0440 +0.27

Yuan 6.623 6.5069 -1.76

(Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru

Editing by Shri Navaratnam)