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EMERGING MARKETS-Thai baht leads gains in Asian fx, peso slips as Philippines' inflation eases

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* Thai baht, S Korean won firms * Philippine peso weakens * China, Taiwan closed due to public holidays By Indranil Sarkar and Savyata Mishra Feb 4 (Reuters) - The Thai baht made the strongest gains among major Asian currencies against a broadly weaker U.S. dollar at the end of a week in which trade in the region was largely subdued by the Lunar New Year holiday. The Philippine peso bucked the trend in Asia, weakening after data showed inflation eased in January from the previous month, and prompted dovish comments from the central bank governor. Otherwise, the baht led the way, firming 0.4% on Friday against a U.S. dollar whose index against other major currencies has dropped 2% this week - its biggest weekly fall since March 2020. "The major factor for strength in THB lately is the falling USD which continues to move lower due to the somewhat surprised hawkish tone from the ECB last night," Poon Panichpibool, Markets Strategist at Krung Thai Bank said. "The market seems to have reversed back to risk-on mode," Panichpibool added. Thailand's investment agency also expected total investment pledges for 2022 to be close to last year or higher, if the COVID-19 situation improves and the global economy continues to expand. The Philippine peso slipped 0.1%, and was on track for its fourth consecutive weekly fall. "PHP likely reacting to dovish statements from BSP Governor, Benjamin Diokno, after the inflation report," Nicholas Mapa, Senior Economist at ING said. "Diokno suggested that he can keep rates unchanged even in the face of the Fed rate hike cycle with the PHP taking the heat." Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said it sees "ample scope to keep a patient hand" on its various policy levers, while keeping an eye on potential risks to inflation and the financial system. The South Korean won rose 0.6% after the country's inflation came in at a decade high, boosting the case for more interest rate hikes this year. South Korean stocks rose 0.8% and were on track to close their best week in a year. Other major Asian currencies made marginal gains, with Singapore dollar and Malaysian ringgit firming 0.1% each. HIGHLIGHTS ** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields are up 1.09 basis points at 6.454%​​ ** LG Chem climb 0.9% and Naver advanced 1.6% to boost KOSPI Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0416 GMT COUNTRY FX RIC FX FX INDEX STOCKS STOCK DAILY YTD % DAILY % S YTD % % Japan +0.06 +0.17 +0.2 -5.2 China India +0.00 -0.71 0.13 1.32 Indones +0.01 -0.86 0.31 1.87 ia Malaysi +0.14 -0.29 -0.23 -2.89 a Philipp -0.16 -0.04 0.68 4.36 ines S.Korea Singapo +0.07 +0.47 0.19 6.36 re Taiwan 0.00 -0.50 0.00 -2.99 Thailan +0.42 +1.18 0.40 1.09 d (Reporting by Indranil Sarkar and Savyata Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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