(.) * S.Korea shares set for eighth straight week of gains * Taiwanese dollar climbs to highest level since 1997 * Stock markets in Philippines, Indonesia closed for holiday By Pranav A K Dec 24 (Reuters) - South Korea led most emerging Asian stock markets higher in holiday-thinned trading on Thursday after the country signed deals to secure COVID-19 vaccines, while most regional currencies firmed against a softer dollar. Boosted by Seoul signing deals with Pfizer Inc and Johnson & Johnson's Janssen to import vaccines, South Korea's KOSPI hit a record high and was set to post an eighth straight week of gains, while the won jumped 0.4%. Asia's fourth-largest economy, which had managed to contain the first two waves of virus, has buckled under the latest outbreak that emerged about two-weeks ago.
* Thai baht hits strongest level since late May, 2013 * Indonesia, Philippines cenbanks expected to hold fire * S. Korea cuts growth outlook By Shriya Ramakrishnan Dec 17 (Reuters) - The Thai baht jumped to a more than seven-year high and breached a major resistance level on Thursday, as investors bet the country's inclusion on a U.S. currency watch list might weaken the central bank's determination to slow the currency's gains. The baht firmed 0.6% to 29.83 per U.S. dollar. Thai exporters last week had called on the central bank to ensure the baht did not appreciate beyond the 30 per dollar mark, which is critical to keep them globally competitive.
* 15 Asia-Pacific economies form world's largest free trade bloc * South Korea, Taiwan gain 2% * Singapore, China, Thailand up around 1% * South Korean won hits near 2-year high against the dollar By Nikhil Nainan Nov 16 (Reuters) - South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore led broader Asian stock market gains on Monday as 15 Asia-Pacific economies signed a deal to form the world's largest free trade bloc, bolstering expectations for the pace of future economic growth. With the mood also brightened by upbeat data from China and Japan, Bangkok and Shanghai stocks both gained around 1%, with the Thai market hitting a more than three-month high.