EMERGING MARKETS-Asian stocks up on U.S. stimulus hopes, Malaysia slips as COVID-19 cases rise

    * Graphic: World FX rates
    * Travel stocks fall in Malaysia
    * Banks power Singapore's index to a six-week high
    * Asian currencies slightly weaker

    By Anushka Trivedi
    Jan 7 (Reuters) - Malaysia shares sat out a broader rally in
Asian stocks on Thursday as climbing COVID-19 cases at home
spooked investors, while Singapore and South Korea indexes led
gains on hopes that a large U.S. stimulus would boost trade and
    India's benchmark index touched an all-time high,
while equities in South Korea surged 2% to break above
the 3,000 handle again. Indonesia, Thailand and
Taiwan equities all rose more than 1%.
    Singapore's Straits Times Index, that had lagged its
peers in the year-end rally in 2020, hit a six-week high,
propelled by heavyweight banking stocks that tracked their U.S.
    Democrat victories in two Georgia races handed them control
of the Senate in the United States, making it easier for
incoming President Joe Biden to push his reforms which includes
higher fiscal spending, with markets expecting it to drive
economic growth.
    "More fiscal stimulus would lead to a weaker U.S. dollar and
that is always positive for emerging and Asian markets," said
Joel Ng, an analyst at KGI Securities in Singapore.
    It would also increase demand for commodities which should
benefit emerging markets that are large exporters, he added.    
    Meanwhile, the Kuala Lumpur index fell as much as
1.2% after adding 2,593 coronavirus cases to its tally by
Wednesday, the director general of health said here,
 further straining the country's healthcare system.
    Travel stocks led declines on the benchmark, while
heavyweight latex glove makers surged.
    Several local media outlets here
 reported here
 the Malaysian government was mulling targeted lockdowns after
New Year celebrations increased caseload, including in Sabah,
one of the worst hit by the pandemic.    
    Most Asian currencies were marginally weaker against a flat
greenback, with the Singapore dollar, Malaysian
ringgit and the Indonesian rupiah easing 0.1%
    Taiwan's dollar was an outlier, firming 1.5% to
hover at an about 23-year high, a day after the region's central
bank admitted it had intervened in the forex market owing to a
flood of foreign capital.
    Taiwan's foreign exchange reserves rose by a record $16.514
billion in December, unnerving its government, as it is wary of
being labelled a currency manipulator by Washington, the
island's most important international backer.
    ** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields are down
0.2 basis points at 6.01%
    ** Top gainers on the Singapore STI include DBS Group
Holdings Ltd up 3.4%, and Yangzijiang Shipbuilding
Holdings Ltd up 3.1%
    ** Top losers on FTSE Bursa Malaysia Kl Index
include Genting Malaysia Bhd and Genting Bhd
down about 3% each
 Asia stock indexes and currencies at                                                      
 0714 GMT                                                                   
 Japan                           -0.23      -0.04                     1.60             0.17
 China                           +0.12      +1.12                     0.67             2.92
 India                           -0.03      -0.08                     0.29             1.47
 Indonesia                       -0.14      +1.01                     1.31             2.78
 Malaysia                        -0.12      +0.17                    -0.20            -2.36
 Philippines                     -0.04      -0.08                     1.02            -0.28
 S.Korea                         -0.16      -0.10                     2.14             5.51
 Singapore                       -0.07      +0.18                     1.50             2.19
 Taiwan                          +1.55      +1.82                     1.54             3.27
 Thailand                        -0.20      +0.10                     1.48             4.49

 (Reporting by Anushka Trivedi and A K Pranav in Bengaluru,
additional reporting by Rozanna Latiff in Kuala Lumpur; Editing
by Shailesh Kuber)