POLL-Long bets cut on most Asia FX; rupee bulls at near 5-month high

    * Long positions scaled back on seven of nine Asian
    * Long bets on S.Korean won, Chinese yuan lowest since Oct
    * Bullish bets on Indian rupee highest since Sept 2020

    By Shriya Ramakrishnan
    Jan 28 (Reuters) - Investors trimmed bullish bets on most
Asian currencies, a Reuters poll showed, as doubts over the
course of the U.S. dollar in the near term left markets
cautious, while improved growth prospects lifted sentiment
towards the Indian rupee.
    Long positions on the Chinese yuan were cut to
the lowest since mid-October 2020, while bullish views on the
Singapore dollar and Thai baht were unwound
slightly, the fortnightly poll of 16 respondents showed.
    While analysts expect a broad dollar decline in 2021, risk
appetite for Asian currencies has waned as concerns about
potential delays in the Biden administration's $1.9 trillion
pandemic relief proposal could support the greenback's
safe-haven appeal in the short term.
    "A delay (in stimulus) could keep the USD afloat against
Asian currencies... but in the long run, the broader path for
the USD remains biased lower for 2021 as loose monetary policy
and fiscal stimulus make for an environment that is difficult
for the greenback," said Daniel Dubrovsky, a strategist with
    The responses came in before the U.S. Federal Reserve on
Wednesday kept monetary policy unchanged at near zero as
expected, but flagged a slowdown in the pace of the economic
    Bullish stakes on the South Korean won were cut
to a near four-month low, while those on the Taiwan dollar
 were scaled back for the second time in a month. 
    Taiwan's dollar has gained nearly 2% so far this year, but
the currency's strength has vexed the government, wary of being
labelled a currency manipulator by the United States, while it
also risks making exports from its trade-reliant economy less
    The Indian rupee was the only currency to see an
increase in bullish positions, which rose to the highest since
early September 2020. 
    The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday said it expected
India's economy to grow 11.5% in 2021, up 2.7 percentage points
from the October forecast after a stronger-than-expected
recovery in 2020.
    Traders and analysts are also betting the Indian government
would focus on fiscal expansion in its budget next week, which
would further help propel the economy out of its slump. 
    "Markets are pricing in a faster recovery from the recent
slowdown but not a complete recovery, which is why we expect
more reforms from the government will be needed," said Gaurang
Somaiya, a forex analyst at Motilal Oswal Financial Services.
    Bullish bets on Indonesia's rupiah were cut for the
fourth time in more than two months, as concerns over the
country's rising COVID-19 toll dented sentiment.
    Indonesia surpassed a million confirmed coronavirus cases on
Tuesday and reported a record daily increase in deaths from the
respiratory disease on Wednesday.

    The Asian currency positioning poll is focused on what
analysts and fund managers believe are the current market
positions in nine Asian emerging market currencies: the Chinese
yuan, South Korean won, Singapore dollar, Indonesian rupiah,
Taiwan dollar, Indian rupee, Philippine peso, Malaysian ringgit
and the Thai baht.
    The poll uses estimates of net long or short positions on a
scale of minus 3 to plus 3. A score of plus 3 indicates the
market is significantly long U.S. dollars.
    The figures include positions held through non-deliverable
forwards (NDFs).
 28-Jan  -1.08    -0.64    -0.79    -0.41    -0.68    -0.55    -0.30    -0.66    -0.36
 14-Jan  -1.21    -0.87    -0.83    -0.57    -0.89    -0.22    -0.30    -0.80    -0.50
 10-Dec  -1.53    -1.68    -1.11    -0.61    -1.6     -0.2     -0.53    -0.97    -0.87
 26-Nov  -1.43    -1.29    -1.01    -0.92    -1.08    -0.3     -0.75    -0.8     -0.66
 12-Nov  -1.28    -1.52    -0.99    -1.01    -1.08    -0.26    -0.44    -0.67    -0.8
 29-Oct  -0.86    -1.14    -0.49    0.09     -1.23    -0.07    -0.03    -0.09    -0.02
 15-Oct  -1.07    -0.94    -0.72    0.35     -1.12    -0.44    -0.33    -0.15    0.1
 01-Oct  -0.47    -0.53    -0.25    0.61     -0.68    -0.31    -0.31    -0.68    0.38
 17-Sep  -1.25    -0.6     -0.61    0.39     -0.51    -0.54    -0.89    -1.07    -0.17
 03-Sep  -1.41    -0.71    -0.99    -0.19    -0.4     -0.91    -0.96    -1.34    -0.15
 20-Aug  -1.02    -0.71    -0.69    0.43     -0.31    -0.35    -0.62    -1.12    -0.21

 (Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by
Subhranshu Sahu)