* China factory activity shrinks to 3-year low
* Bank of Korea holds key rates
* India Oct-Dec GDP data due later in the day
(Adds text, updates prices)
By Niyati Shetty
Feb 28 (Reuters) - Most Asian currencies traded sideways on
Thursday after cautious comments from a top U.S. trade official
spoiled hopes of a speedy end to the protracted U.S.-China trade
dispute, while dismal Chinese factory activity data added to
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on
Wednesday it was too early to predict an outcome to the trade
talks adding the United States will need to maintain the threat
of tariffs on Chinese goods for years even if Washington and
Beijing strike a deal to end a costly tariff war.
Leading declines in the region, the Thai baht
weakened about 0.3 percent and was poised for its worst February
since 2009, faltering about 0.9 percent this month.
"Declining attractiveness of local government bonds and
political risk premiums also impart additional negative baggage
for the baht," OCBC Bank said in a note to clients.
Political uncertainty prevails in Thailand with national
elections due on March 24, which could see an end to the
military junta rule.
Further marring risk sentiment in Asia, China's
manufacturing activity contracted to a three-year low in
February as export orders fell at the fastest pace since the
global financial crisis.
The dismal China data reinforces fears that the world's
second-largest economy continues to cool. The official
Purchasing Managers' Index fell to 49.2 in February, pointing to
activity shrinking for a third straight month.
The Indonesian rupiah eased 0.2 percent against the
dollar and was on track to decline 0.7 percent in February,
while the Malaysian ringgit was marginally down.
The Singapore dollar and the South Korean won treaded
water, while the Philippine peso saw marginal gains.
Meanwhile, the Bank of Korea held interest rates steady on
Thursday, as policymakers shifted their focus to supporting the
economy facing increasing pressure from falling exports and
slowing global growth.
INDIAN RUPEE FIRMS
The rupee edged up slightly after falling the
previous day on India-Pakistan border tensions.
World powers urged restraint as tensions between the
nuclear-armed neighbours mounted following tit-for-tat air
strikes that downed enemy jets, with Pakistan capturing an
Investors also awaited India's GDP data for the
October-December quarter due later in the day.
A Reuters poll showed that India's economy likely grew at
its slowest pace in over a year for the quarter, as weaker rural
incomes and softer urban demand weighed on
The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against
the dollar at 0553 GMT.
CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR
Currency Latest bid Previous day Pct Move
Japan yen 110.840 110.98 +0.13
Sing dlr 1.349 1.3483 -0.02
Korean won 1118.700 1119.1 +0.04
Baht 31.470 31.37 -0.32
Peso 51.690 51.79 +0.19
Rupiah 14055.000 14025 -0.21
Rupee 71.160 71.22 +0.08
Ringgit 4.069 4.064 -0.12
Yuan 6.682 6.6855 +0.06
Change so far in 2019
Currency Latest bid End 2018 Pct Move
Japan yen 110.840 109.56 -1.15
Sing dlr 1.349 1.3627 +1.05
Taiwan dlr 30.775 30.733 -0.14
Korean won 1118.700 1115.70 -0.27
Baht 31.470 32.55 +3.43
Peso 51.690 52.47 +1.51
Rupiah 14055.000 14375 +2.28
Rupee 71.160 69.77 -1.95
Ringgit 4.069 4.1300 +1.50
Yuan 6.682 6.8730 +2.87
(Reporting by Niyati Shetty in Bengaluru
Editing by Jacqueline Wong)