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Asian currencies were tepid and stocks tumbled on Friday as the possibility of multiple and faster rate hikes by the Federal Reserve frayed investor nerves, while the South Korean won took a breather as the country's central bank tightened policy.

The dollar struggled as four US rate hikes seemed to be fully priced in, with the Fed Governor Lael Brainard becoming the latest and most senior central banker to signal that rates will rise in March to combat inflation.

Losses in Asian currencies were limited, with the Indonesian rupiah and Malaysia's ringgit easing 0.2%, while Singapore and Taiwan's dollars were flat.

Most Asian FX and stocks gain as Fed rates outlook seen unchanged

Equities in Kuala Lumpur, Philippines and Thailand dropped between 0.3% and 1%.

"Asia is in a good position to weather higher US interest rates," ANZ Research analysts said in a note.

"But the risk is that increased financial market volatility could force some Asian central banks to tighten prematurely, causing a tightening in financial conditions that could impede growth recovery," they added.

The Bank of Korea raised interest rates back to pre-pandemic levels on Friday, as widely expected, while Indonesia and Malaysia's central banks are set to hold a policy review next week where they are likely to stand pat on rates.

However, any comment on how the Fed's normalisation will affect their outlook will be closely watched, ANZ analysts said.

The won eased 0.1% after accumulating gains of around 1% this week in the run up to the BoK meeting, while Seoul equities sank 1.5% after the rate decision.

"The won may have slipped due to equity outflows," said Wei Liang Chang, a macro strategist at DBS Bank, adding that the rate hike should cushion the won against larger losses since soaring inflation led BoK to hint at more tightening.

The ringgit eased after five days of gains underpinned by recent crude strength, and was to set to end the week 0.7% higher.

Among stock markets, Philippine equities fell 0.5% after coronavirus curbs in the capital city were extended till the end of January, but were headed for their best week since early November with a near 3.8% jump.

Singapore shares were the sole gainers, buoyed by financial stocks after United Overseas Bank said it would buy Citigroup's consumer businesses in four Southeast Asian countries.


** Indonesian 3-year benchmark yields are down 5 basis points at 4.392%

** Indian shares slip 0.4% as earnings season kicks off, but still eye their fourth consecutive week of gains

** Top losers on FTSE Bursa Malaysia Kl Index include Inari Amertron Bhd down 4% and Top Glove Corp Bhd down 3.4%


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