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EMERGING MARKETS-Asian currencies firm ahead of Fed decision; firmer oil saps appetite

·2-min read

* All eyes on Fed's expected 50-bp hike * Crude up as EU proposes ban on Russian oil * Market holidays in the region keep trade muted By Tejaswi Marthi May 4 (Reuters) - Most Asian currencies rose in thin trading on Wednesday, amid caution ahead of the outcome of a U.S. central bank meeting later in the day, where it is expected to raise rates by 50 basis points and provide clues on future hikes. The dollar slipped against a basket of currencies in Asia ahead of the Federal Reserve's decision, which has already been priced in by markets and is aimed at taming sky-high inflation. Holidays in Japan, China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand curbed trading activity. The won firmed 0.1%, while the Philippine Peso rose marginally. Both the Indian rupee and the Singapore dollar were flat. However, the gains were capped by rising oil prices as the European Union (EU) proposed a phased embargo on Russian oil, along with sanctioning Russia's top bank and banning Russian broadcasters from European airwaves. Stock markets in the region were directionless ahead of the Fed's announcement. However, equities in Philippines staged a reversal to close 1.2% higher, while stocks in India and Singapore fell 1.2% and 0.1%, respectively. Strength in consumer-focused and utilities stocks drove the benchmark Philippine index higher, with investors awaiting the country's inflation data on Thursday. A Reuters poll shows that inflation in April is expected to come in at 4.6%, within the central bank's estimate range of 4.2% to 5%. "The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor has remained steadfast in his guidance to keep rates unchanged to support the economy recovery but he has recently signalled he would be open to hiking by June to curtail inflation," said Nicholas Mapa, senior economist for the Philippines at ING. HIGHLIGHTS: ** Universal Robina Corp and SM Prime Holdings gain 5.7% and 5%, respectively, to be top gainers on ** India has asked state and private sector utilities to ensure delivery of 19 million tonnes of coal from overseas by end-June as power woes mount ** Singapore 10-year benchmark yields rise 10.4 basis points to 2.623% Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0738 GMT COUNTRY FX RIC FX FX INDE STOCKS STOCKS DAILY % YTD % X DAILY YTD % % Japan +0.00 -11.5 <.N2 - - 4 25> India -0.02 -2.88 <.NS -1.29 -2.91 EI> Philippi +0.06 -2.84 <.PS 1.21 -4.49 nes I> S.Korea 11> Singapor +0.07 -2.41 <.ST -0.23 7.47 e I> Taiwan +0.02 -6.21 <.TW 0.41 -9.07 II> (Reporting by Tejaswi Marthi in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)