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EM ASIA FX-Asian currencies soften after China data, baht leads losses

* China's Jan-Feb industrial output falls to 17-yr low

* Thai baht leads losses in emerging Asia

* Peso slips following cut in Philippine 2019 GDP

By Shriya Ramakrishnan

March 14 (Reuters) - Most Asian currencies weakened against

the dollar on Thursday, as investors grappled with a slew of

economic data from the region's largest trading partner, China,

while uncertainty over a U.S.-Sino trade deal continued to weigh

on risk appetite.

China's industrial output fell to a 17-year low in the first

two months of the year, data showed on Thursday, while

investment picked up speed as the government fast-tracked more

road and rail projects as they work to avert a sharper slowdown.

Earlier this month, China announced stimulus measures to

shore up its slowing economy through billions of dollars in

planned tax cuts and infrastructure spending amid softer

domestic demand and a trade war with the United States.

Adding to fears was U.S. President Donald Trump's comment

that he was in no rush to complete a trade pact with China.

Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping had been expected

to hold a summit later this month, but no date has been set for

a meeting.

"The rally in Asian currencies has paused as a U.S.-China

trade deal doesn't look like a slam dunk, despite markets mostly

pricing in a deal by now," Mizuho Bank said in a note.

Among the regional players, currencies that are more

sensitive to trade tensions such as the Singapore dollar

weakened 0.2 percent, while the South Korean won

edged lower.

The Philippine peso slid 0.3 percent to 52.76 against

the dollar.

The Philippines, one of the fastest emerging economies in

Asia, trimmed its 2019 GDP growth target to 6-7 percent, from

7-8 percent citing a delay in final legislative approval of the

budget, while the economic planning chief said growth might fall

to below 5 percent.

The government's economic team kept its forecast unchanged

for the peso exchange rate of 52-55 against the dollar from now

through 2022.

Currencies of major oil importers such as the Indonesian

rupiah and Indian rupee weakened as Brent

crude oil prices hit their highest so far this year amid ongoing

supply cuts led by producer cartel OPEC and by U.S. sanctions

against Venezuela and Iran.


The Thai baht led declines among emerging Asia's

currencies, shedding 0.3 percent against the greenback to 31.61.

"The Thai market underperformed the region in Q1, as growth

and political headwinds intensified," DBS Bank said in a note.

The baht is so far the best performer in emerging Asia this

year after it also took the top spot in 2018. Earlier this year,

the finance minister raised concerns that strength in the baht

was hurting exports, and a central bank official warned that

exports in Southeast Asia's second-largest economy was likely to

contract in the first quarter.

Foreign investors have so far sold $315 million worth of

Thai equities this month, according to exchange data.

Thailand goes to the polls on March 24 in the first

elections since a military coup.

The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against the

dollar at 0538 GMT.


Currency Latest bid Previous day Pct Move

Japan yen 111.550 111.15 -0.36

Sing dlr 1.354 1.3521 -0.17

Taiwan dlr 30.902 30.910 +0.03

Korean won 1134.100 1132.6 -0.13

Baht 31.710 31.61 -0.32

Peso 52.760 52.63 -0.25

Rupiah 14270.000 14260 -0.07

Rupee 69.580 69.54 -0.06

Ringgit 4.088 4.0865 -0.04

Yuan 6.712 6.7070 -0.07

Change so far in 2019

Currency Latest bid End 2018 Pct Move

Japan yen 111.550 109.56 -1.78

Sing dlr 1.354 1.3627 +0.61

Taiwan dlr 30.902 30.733 -0.55

Korean won 1134.100 1115.70 -1.62

Baht 31.710 32.55 +2.65

Peso 52.760 52.47 -0.55

Rupiah 14270.000 14375 +0.74

Rupee 69.580 69.77 +0.27

Ringgit 4.088 4.1300 +1.03

Yuan 6.712 6.8730 +2.41

(Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru, Additional

reporting by Gaurav Dogra

Editing by Jacqueline Wong)