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EMERGING MARKETS-South Korean won firms as Asian FX awaits U.S. jobs data

    * S.Korea's won set for best week since mid-February
    * Philippine peso on track for second weekly gain
    * U.S. Aug non-farm payroll data awaited
    * Japan PM Suga to step down - Kyodo

    By Sameer Manekar
    Sept 3 (Reuters) - The South Korean won gained slightly more
than other Asian currencies against a broadly weaker U.S. dollar
on Friday, as investors eyed key U.S. jobs data due out later
for clues to the Federal Reserve's timeline for tapering its
stimulus.
    The won firmed about 0.5% and was set to add
nearly 1% over the week, its strongest weekly performance since
mid-February, while the Philippine peso edged higher on
Friday and was on track to post a third straight weekly gain.
    The Indonesian rupiah and Taiwanese dollar
were also among the gainers, advancing up to 0.2% helped by a
weaker U.S. dollar as investors awaited the key non-farm
payrolls data for a better sense of the timing and pace of
tapering by the Federal Reserve.
    The Fed, which has held on to its dovish stance so far,
would likely be spurred into policy tightening if data shows a
strong jobs number in the United States for August, thereby
adding pressure on the risk-sensitive Asian markets.
    "A strong non-farm payrolls print would weigh on Asia macro
markets, and we could see some give-back of the broad gains this
week," analysts at Singapore-bank DBS said in a note.
    "With the Fed moving confidently towards taper, Asia is
lagging in term of normalizing liquidity, and that will
increasingly come into focus."
    On the downside, China's services sector activity slumped
into a sharp contraction in August as restrictions to curb the
COVID-19 Delta variant threatened the economic recovery in the
region's biggest trading partner.
    The Thai baht unwound its gains from earlier in the
week to depreciate about 0.2% on Friday, but was set to post a
second weekly gain as the country began lifting restrictions
even as worries of resurgence in coronavirus cases persisted.

    Analysts at Maybank said the fragile state of the tourism
industry, and loss of tourist dollars, made it likely that the 
Bank of Thailand would stick to its accommodative monetary
policy for longer, making any recovery in the Thai baht
"challenging" in the near-term.
    Korean equities were also among the top gainers in
the region, advancing nearly 1% as record closing highs on 
major U.S. share markets lifted sentiment, while shares in the
Philippines and Thailand added about 0.5%
each.
    Japan's Nikkei share average rose 1.7% to reach its
highest since June, while the Topix index hit a
three-decade high after Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga offered to
resign.
    In Singapore, investors awaited retail sales data, with
expectations that it will show a sharp slowdown to a negative
year-on-year reading in July due to fading base year affects,
according to Dutch-bank ING.
   
    HIGHLIGHTS:    
    ** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields edge higher to 6.118%
    ** Asian equities see foreign outflows for fourth straight
month in August - nL4N2Q31KN
    ** Reuters September foreign exchange poll - nL4N2Q11VY
    
  Asia stock indexes and                            
 currencies at 0340 GMT                        
 COUNTRY  FX RIC        FX    FX  INDE  STOCK  STOCK
                     DAILY   YTD     X      S  S YTD
                         %     %        DAILY      %
                                            %  
 Japan               -0.07  -6.1  <.N2  1.75   5.82
                               5  25>          
 China    <CNY=CFX   -0.06  +1.0  <.SS  -0.17   3.39
          S>                   6  EC>          
 India                0.00  +0.0  <.NS   0.00  23.26
                               1  EI>          
 Indones             +0.11  -1.5  <.JK  -0.14   1.52
 ia                            1  SE>          
 Malaysi             +0.07  -3.2  <.KL   0.10  -2.67
 a                             0  SE>          
 Philipp             +0.02  -3.3  <.PS   0.40  -3.89
 ines                          9  I>           
 S.Korea  <KRW=KFT   +0.48  -6.0  <.KS   0.60  11.19
          C>                   3  11>          
 Singapo             -0.07  -1.6  <.ST  -0.11   8.50
 re                            6  I>           
 Taiwan              +0.18  +2.8  <.TW   0.90  18.62
                               9  II>          
 Thailan             -0.34  -7.9  <.SE   0.11  13.81
 d                             3  TI>          
 

 (Reporting by Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon
Cameron-Moore)
  
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