* Long positions scaled back on seven of nine Asian currencies * Long bets on S.Korean won, Chinese yuan lowest since Oct 2020 * 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 DailyFX. 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 recovery. 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 competitive. 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). Date USD/CNY USD/KRW USD/SGD USD/IDR USD/TWD USD/INR USD/MYR USD/PHP USD/THB 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)
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