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EMERGING MARKETS-Thai baht, Malaysian ringgit lead Asian FX higher as Omicron fears ease

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(Repeats to additional codes. No change to text.) * Risk-sensitive Asian currencies firm on waning Omicron concerns * Thai baht top gainer among regional units * Most regional equities gain * India's cenbank seen holding rates - Reuters poll By Sameer Manekar Dec 8 (Reuters) - Thailand's baht hit a near two-week high on Wednesday as waning concerns about the new Omicron coronavirus variant supported prospects for the tourism-reliant economy, while Malaysia's ringgit also advanced to its best day in six. Indications that Omicron may be less severe than first feared, combined with news of China's monetary stimulus this week, has helped risk appetite in the region. "The Omicron issue may just be a passing shower. None of the developments this week have proven otherwise," analysts at Singapore-bank OCBC said in a note. "Near-term, expect to see an ongoing reversal of the risk-off trades put on last week, with the cyclicals likely to continue outperforming on risk dynamics." The Thai baht strengthened 0.4% to hit 33.48 per U.S. dollar, its highest since Nov. 26, while the Malaysian ringgit was up 0.3%, marking its best intraday jump since the end of last month. However, the baht remains the worst performing currency in the region, on track to lose more than 10% this year as coronavirus restrictions dented the tourist-reliant Thai economy. Elsewhere, South Korea's won firmed 0.4%, marking its best day this month, while Indonesia's rupiah and Singapore dollar both rose slightly. China, the region's top trading partner, on Monday said it would cut the amount of cash banks must hold in reserve, its second such move this year, releasing 1.2 trillion yuan ($188.89 billion) in long-term liquidity and pushing the yuan to a more than three-year high on Wednesday against the greenback. Among regional equities, Indonesian shares added about 0.5%, South Korea's KOSPI advanced 1.5% to hit its highest since late-October, while Malaysia's benchmark and Singaporean equities lost 0.4% and 0.2%, respectively. Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank of India later in the day is expected to hold its benchmark interest rate and the reverse repo rate, a Reuters poll showed. It is, however, seen hiking its reverse repo rate early next year and its repo rate the following quarter. "With the recent capitulation in oil prices and uncertainty about Omicron, the RBI has perhaps bought some time to hold its horses on growing pressures to kick-off calibrated tightening," analysts at Mizuho Bank said in a note. "The RBI's lease on currently accommodative policy settings is set to run out fairly quickly, if not already on borrowed time." Markets in the Philippines were closed for a public holiday. HIGHLIGHTS: ** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields fall 4.2 basis points to 6.376% ** China Evergrande shares hold steady after it misses debt deadline ** Thai c.bank urges banks to refrain from trading digital assets Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0322 GMT COUNTRY FX RIC FX FX INDE STOCK STOCK DAILY YTD % X S S YTD % DAILY % % Japan +0.11 -9.00 <.N2 1.12 4.85 25> China EC> India +0.00 -3.15 <.NS 0.00 22.85 EI> Indones +0.28 -2.06 <.JK 0.26 10.72 ia SE> Malaysi +0.40 -4.58 <.KL -0.11 -8.04 a SE> Philipp - -4.46 <.PS - 0.11 ines I> S.Korea 11> Singapo +0.12 -3.14 <.ST -0.26 9.95 re I> Taiwan +0.13 +2.70 <.TW 0.68 21.62 II> Thailan +0.39 -10.5 <.SE 0.64 11.75 d 4 TI> ($1 = 6.3529 yuan) (Reporting by Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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