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EMERGING MARKETS-Asian stocks, FX gain as Omicron worries recede

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* Regional stocks, FX firm as risk appetite returns * Philippine Nov inflation eases to lowest in 4 mths * Taiwan's inflation, trade data awaited By Harish Sridharan Dec 7 (Reuters) - Asia's emerging share markets strengthened on Tuesday, as fears surrounding the Omicron coronavirus variant ebbed, while Chinese stocks gained as the country's central bank moved to ease policy to bolster economic growth. Shares in Bangkok, Mumbai, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur rose 0.4-0.8%, while currencies in the region saw gains as risk appetite revived on reports suggesting that the Omicron variant may be relatively mild. Early observations in South Africa suggest that those infected with the new variant suffer relatively minor symptoms compared with previous virus waves. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease official, said "it does not look like there's a great degree of severity to it," but added that it was too early to draw definitive conclusions. "With the overnight consolidation in risk, expect some room for the Asian currencies to reverse yesterday's decline against the USD," analysts at OCBC said in a note. Stocks in China gained as the People's Bank of China on Monday cut the amount of cash banks must hold in reserve, its second such move this year, releasing funds in long-term liquidity to bolster slowing economic growth. Investors also cautiously watched if China Evergrande Group would default as the world's most indebted developer inches closer to a debt restructuring. A formal default would trigger a wave of cross defaults that would ripple through the property sector and beyond. Meanwhile, shares in Manila edged lower after three straight sessions of gains, while the peso rose 0.3%. Philippine inflation in November eased to the lowest level in four months, supporting expectations that the central bank will keep its benchmark interest rates steady at its last meeting this year to support an economic recovery. "We expect the Philippines to post robust growth numbers over the next two quarters, which may be enough to convince Governor Diokno, to finally decide to adjust his current accommodative stance," Nicholas Mapa, senior economist at ING said in a note. Stocks in Taipei and the Taiwan dollar inched lower ahead of the island's trade and inflation data. A Reuters poll found that exports likely rose for a 17th straight month in November, boosted by sustained demand for chips and technology. Separately, market participants also await a Reserve Bank of India meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, where the central bank is expected to hold its benchmark interest rate at 4.00% and the reverse repo rate at 3.35%. HIGHLIGHTS ** China Evergrande shares jump as much as 8.3%, a day after tumbling 20% ** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields are up 1.8 basis points at 6.434% ** In India, Tata Motors Ltd leads gains on the Nifty 50 Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0354 GMT COUNTRY FX RIC FX FX YTD INDEX STOCKS STOCK DAILY % DAILY S YTD % % % Japan -0.08 -9.08 1.47 3.28 China +0.08 +2.46 0.12 3.47 India +0.00 -3.12 0.78 21.90 Indonesia +0.13 -2.61 0.69 10.25 Malaysia -0.02 -4.99 0.38 -8.49 Philippines +0.28 -4.38 -0.22 -0.35 S.Korea +0.19 -8.00 0.28 3.76 Singapore +0.09 -3.41 0.33 9.94 Taiwan -0.13 +2.54 -0.12 19.92 Thailand +0.15 -11.44 0.54 10.17 (Reporting by Harish Sridharan in Bengaluru; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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