(Corrects second table to reflect 2020 year-to-date percentage movements, not 2019 year-to-date moves.) * Thai c. bank says monitoring baht closely * China's yuan dips after RRR cut * Taiwan dollar strengthens By Shriya Ramakrishnan Jan 2 (Reuters) - Most emerging Asian currencies began the year on the backfoot on Thursday amid wider uncertainties about U.S.-China trade progress while an earlier break of a key level in the Thai baht kept the Southeast Asian unit under pressure. U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that the "Phase 1" of a trade deal with China would be signed on Jan. 15. However, no version of the text has been made public, and Chinese officials have yet to commit to key planks. The South Korean won and the Philippine peso both edged down 0.1%. The Singapore dollar slipped 0.2%. The city-state's economy expanded at its slowest pace in a decade last year due to weakness in the manufacturing sector, though fourth quarter readings firmed expectations for a modest recovery in 2020. "Signs of a turnaround are emerging, but recovery could be weak," DBS analysts said. "While small and agile economies such as Singapore could bounce back faster, its openness and trade dependent nature also imply vulnerability to unexpected negative shocks." Strength in global crude prices weighed on the region's net importers, with the Indian rupee and Indonesian rupiah easing 0.2% and 0.1%, each. The Chinese yuan dipped slightly, after Beijing said it would cut the amount of cash that banks must hold as reserves to spur lending and shore up the slowing economy. Analysts say the central bank's move was widely expected and aimed at addressing liquidity needs ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays later this month, when demand for cash surges. "The 50 basis points cut is not exceptionally large and so it is neither likely to give the economy that much of a thrust nor weigh on the yuan," Fiona Lim, senior FX strategist at Maybank, Global Markets Singapore said. "Rather, a more benign trade environment would be more supportive of the CNY vs the USD." The Taiwan dollar was the top performer of the day, advancing 0.3%, while the Malaysian ringgit edged up 0.1%. 'MONITORING BAHT CLOSELY' The baht weakened 0.7% against the dollar, with traders reporting intervention by the central bank. The baht surpassed the key 30 per dollar level on Monday, with the central bank saying fluctuations were due to a rush of year-end transactions and limited market liquidity. Thai financial markets were closed on Tuesday and Wednesday. "Should the U.S. Dollar weaken substantially over the course of 2020, that could bring the currency pair towards the 28.5 mark, which was a key support level in 2013," Han Tan, Market Analyst at FXTM said. "Such a path for USD/THB is likely to hasten the BoT’s measures in reining in the Baht's strength." BoT on Thursday said it was closely monitoring the baht, and that liquidity was returning to normal. CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR Change on the day at 0609 GMT Currency Latest bid Previous day Pct Move Japan yen 108.730 108.7 -0.03 Sing dlr 1.347 1.3445 -0.16 Taiwan dlr 30.027 30.106 +0.26 Korean won 1157.000 1156.4 -0.05 Baht 30.100 29.9 -0.66 Peso 50.700 50.65 -0.10 Rupiah 13900.000 13880 -0.14 Rupee 71.333 71.22 -0.15 Ringgit 4.085 4.089 +0.10 Yuan 6.964 6.9632 -0.02 Change so far in 2020 Currency Latest bid End 2019 Pct Move Japan yen 108.730 108.61 -0.11 Sing dlr 1.347 1.3444 -0.19 Taiwan dlr 30.027 30.106 +0.26 Korean won 1157.000 1156.40 -0.05 Baht 30.100 29.91 -0.64 Peso 50.700 50.65 -0.10 Rupiah 13900.000 13880 -0.14 Rupee 71.333 71.38 +0.07 Ringgit 4.085 4.0890 +0.10 Yuan 6.964 6.9632 -0.01 (Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam Holmes)
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