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EM ASIA FX-Asian currencies fall on U.S. rate hike fears

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* Yuan, ringgit headed for three straight sessions of declines * Markets awaiting U.S. data later in the global day (Adds text, updates prices) By Ambar Warrick March 1 (Reuters) - Most Asian currencies lost ground against the dollar on Thursday as Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell hinted that U.S. borrowing costs might rise at a faster pace than expected in a blow to riskier markets. Powell's optimistic outlook on the U.S. economy promted investors to price in up to four rate hikes this year, one more than had been expected. That lifted the dollar, with markets now awaiting jobless claims, manufacturing and personal consumption data from the U.S. later in the global day for further catalysts. "I think the key focus for markets is whether or not the U.S. labour market is overheating, which will presumably lead to a faster pace of rate hikes going forward," Chang Wei Liang, an FX strategist with Mizuho Bank said. "The key number we'll still be looking out for will be the U.S. manufacturing data." The Chinese yuan fell about 0.3 percent against the dollar and was on track for its third straight session of declines.

On Wednesday an official manufacturing survey showed surprising weakness in the factory sector, though the distortions caused by Lunar New Year holidays appeared to be a key driver. Another private sector survey that was released earlier in the day provided a more positive reading.

Nontheless, taken together, analysts say the world's second-biggest economy might be facing a bumpier ride this year, as authorities extended a clamp down on financial risks. The Indonesian rupiah also eased off 0.2 percent against the dollar. Inflation in the country slowed more than expected in February. The Malaysian ringgit fell to a 2-week low and was on track for its third consecutive session of losses. The ringgit was the biggest loser for the day amongst its peers. The Thai baht and the South Korean won saw shallow trade on account of a market holiday.

TAIWAN DOLLAR AND INDIAN RUPEE The Taiwan dollar fell to a 1-week low against the dollar, probably hurt by weaker factory activity data.

The Indian rupee declined slightly despite solid data showing the economy grew 7.2 percent in the three months ending in December from a year earlier, reinstating its status as the world's fastest growing major economy. Factory growth in Taiwan for February was at its slowest in 4 months, a survey showed on Thursday. The country's newly-appointed central bank governor Yang Chin-long said the island's price pressures remain mild amid rising inflation concerns. The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against the dollar at 0606 GMT. CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR Change on the day at 0606 GMT Currency Latest bid Previous day Pct Move Japan yen 106.810 106.67 -0.13 Sing dlr 1.326 1.3246 -0.09 Taiwan dlr 29.302 29.230 -0.25 Peso 51.985 52.1 +0.22 Rupiah 13770.000 13740 -0.22 Rupee 65.218 65.18 -0.06 Ringgit 3.928 3.915 -0.33 Yuan 6.343 6.3240 -0.30 Change so far in 2018 Currency Latest bid End 2017 Pct Move Japan yen 106.810 112.67 +5.49 Sing dlr 1.326 1.3373 +0.87 Taiwan dlr 29.302 29.848 +1.86 Peso 51.985 49.93 -3.95 Rupiah 13770.000 13565 -1.49 Rupee 65.218 63.87 -2.07 Ringgit 3.928 4.0440 +2.95 Yuan 6.343 6.5069 +2.58

(Reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru Editing by Shri Navaratnam)


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