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EMERGING MARKETS-Asian stocks cling to gains even as shocking China data casts gloom

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* Markets in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia closed * Weaker-than-expected China data fuels growth concerns * Philippine stocks set for best session in two months By Harish Sridharan May 16 (Reuters) - Stocks in the Philippines and India kick-started the week on a firmer footing despite shockingly weak data from China that has stoked concerns about the implications for the health of the global economy. Markets in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia were closed for holidays. The benchmark stock index in the Philippines jumped 2.4%, poised for its best session in two months. That follows five straight sessions of losses that made for a 5.6% decline on the week. Although data last Thursday showed the Philippine economy grew at a better-than-expected 8.3% in the first quarter, the increased likelihood of a rate hike to tackle inflation had hurt sentiment. Shares in India climbed 0.9% after six consecutive sessions of losses. Economic activity in China cooled sharply in April as extensive lockdowns took a heavy toll, adding to fears the economy could shrink in the second quarter. China's April retail sales plunged 11.1% on the year, almost twice the drop forecast, while industrial output fell 2.9% with both metrics well below analyst expectations. Full or partial lockdowns were imposed in dozens of cities across the country in March and April, but Shanghai has now set out plans for the return of more normal life from June 1. "The April data slate combined with other softer data over the month paint a picture of a stalling economy and one in need of more aggressive stimulus and a rapid easing of COVID restrictions," Mitul Kotecha, head of emerging markets strategy at TD Securities, said in a note. "As such, China's weaker growth trajectory will add to pressure on its markets, and fuel a further worsening in global economic prospects, weighing on risk assets," he added. Currencies in Asia were largely subdued against broad dollar strength, with market participants awaiting key U.S. retail and production data due on Tuesday, as well as speeches from several U.S. Federal Reserve officials in the week ahead. The Chinese yuan was flat, just off a 20-month low against the dollar, while the Philippine peso was down 0.2%. The Singaporean dollar weakened 0.2%. HIGHLIGHTS ** In the Philippines, top index gainers were AC Energy Corp and Ayala Corp ** China's central bank on Monday rolled over maturing medium-term policy loans while keeping the interest rate unchanged for a fourth straight month, matching market expectations ** South Korea's finance minister and central bank chief agreed on Monday to boost policy coordination in fighting inflation and financial markets instability Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0443 GMT COUNTRY FX RIC FX FX YTD INDEX STOCK STOCKS DAILY % S YTD % % DAILY % Japan +0.17 -10.77 0.65 -7.62 China -0.04 -6.45 -0.51 -15.70 India - -4.03 1.05 -8.11 Indonesia - -2.46 - 0.25 Malaysia - -5.28 - -1.47 Philippines -0.15 -2.78 2.38 -8.31 S.Korea -0.02 -7.44 -0.26 -12.77 Singapore -0.25 -3.37 - 2.16 Taiwan -0.03 -7.13 0.35 -12.79 Thailand - -3.94 - -4.42 (Reporting by Harish Sridharan in Bengaluru; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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