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EMERGING MARKETS-Philippine peso pressured as c.bank underplays rate hikes, stocks lower on deficit view

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* Philippines c.bank policy meeting on March 24 * Surge in oil prices hits equities * Yields on Indonesian benchmark bonds fall 27 bps By Riya Sharma March 18 (Reuters) - Philippines' peso slipped on Friday and was on track for its sharpest loss in a week after its central bank signalled it was in no hurry to hike interest rates, while equities eased after the country's current account deficit projection was hiked. Other regional currencies came under pressure from safe-haven flows buoying the U.S. dollar as risk sentiment slightly eased after the U.S. Federal Reserve hiked interest rates this week, while equities consolidated as a jump in oil prices subdued assets in the net energy importing region. The Malaysian ringgit and the Singapore dollar gave up 0.1%, in line with losses in the Chinese yuan . Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said on Thursday it did not have to follow the Fed's lead in raising rates but was closely monitoring inflation risks, ahead of a policy meeting on March 24. "BSP Governor has stuck to script, indicating he'll wait until the second half of the year before hiking but by then Philippines will likely be behind the curve," said Nicholas Mapa, a senior economist at ING. Mapa said the BSP's stance to continue making data-driven monetary policy decisions while monitoring the risk to inflation outlook was pushing the peso further lower. The currency, which has fallen 0.2% so far this week, skidded 0.5%. Manila stocks, which have seen volatile trading since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, fell 1.6% and were set for a second straight weekly loss, with pressure exacerbating after the BSP widened its deficit forecast for the year. "Philippines has had a worsening current account position and with the impact of higher oil prices, it implies further pressure on the current account deficit, so widening of the deficit this year is expected and will increase pressure on the currency," said Mitul Kotecha, senior EM strategist at TD Securities. In Indonesia, the rupiah dropped 0.3%, a day after Bank Indonesia held interest rates at a record low and ruled out a need to tighten policy until there was a fundamental increase in inflation. Stocks in Jakarta slipped 0.3% to lead losses in the region. Indonesia on Thursday made a surprise policy U-turn to remove export volume curbs on palm oil products and raise its export levy instead to control domestic cooking oil prices. In Malaysia, both export and import growth rates fell short of expectations on Friday, despite the rise in global commodity prices, while the trade surplus widened slightly.​ Stocks in Kuala Lumpur skidded 0.5%, but were set for weekly gains. HIGHLIGHTS: ** Top gainers on the Singapore STI include Hongkong Land Holdings Ltd up 2.85%, Capital and Investment Ltd up 2.15%, Keppel Corp Ltd up ​1.62% at ** Top gainers on the Thailand's SETI include Ramkhamhaeng Hospital PCL up 11.54%, Baan Rock Garden PCL up 10.59% and Thonburi Healthcare Group PCL up 6.3% Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0715 GMT COUNTRY FX RIC FX FX INDE STOCKS STOCKS DAILY % YTD % X DAILY YTD % % Japan -0.28 -3.23 <.N2 0.65 -6.82 25> China EC> Indonesi -0.28 -0.63 <.JK -0.27 5.53 a SE> Malaysia -0.08 -0.79 <.KL -0.32 3.14 SE> Philippi -0.36 -2.56 <.PS -1.61 -1.61 nes I> S.Korea 11> Singapor -0.13 -0.45 <.ST 0.34 6.73 e I> Taiwan +0.39 -2.36 <.TW 0.05 -4.18 II> Thailand -0.03 +0.36 <.SE -0.01 1.45 TI> (Reporting by Riya Sharma; Editing by Anil D'Silva)

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