EM ASIA FX-Most units trade in tight range; yuan gains on strong data

By Aby Jose Koilparambil

* Chinese yuan set to post best week since October * S. Korean won firms on cbank talks of trade resilience * Stronger dollar puts pressure on some units (Adds text, updates prices) By Aby Jose Koilparambil Jan 17 (Reuters) - Most Asian currencies traded in a narrow range on Friday as excitement over the signing of the Sino-U.S. trade deal faded, while China's yuan hit a six-month high after data showed resilience in the country's economy. The sealing of the Phase 1 deal on Wednesday has helped defuse the 18-month trade row but traders are cautious as a number of thorny issues still remain unresolved. "The Asian currencies are in a holding pattern because some of the excitement over the trade deal has cooled off and nothing is expected on the trade front for the time being," said Sim Moh Siong, forex strategist at Bank of Singapore. Meanwhile, the yuan is set for its biggest weekly gain since early October after data showed China's economy grew 6% in the fourth quarter, in line with expectations and unchanged from the previous quarter's pace of growth. There was surprising acceleration in China's December factory output and investment growth, while retail sales grew at a steady pace. However, the positive China data did not make an impact on other major regional units as they weakened slightly on a stronger dollar. The greenback scaled an eight-month high against the yen on upbeat U.S. retail sales and jobs data. "The U.S. data overnight has been quite impressive, which suggests that the outlook for the rest of the world seems to be brighter and the U.S. outlook is not lying behind," Bank of Singapore's Siong said. The Thai baht and the Indonesian rupiah lost about 0.2% each, while the Indian rupee and the Philippine peso weakened slightly. Movements in the Malaysian ringgit, the Taiwan dollar and the Singapore dollar were relatively limited. WON GAINS The Korean won strengthened as much as 0.4% after Bank of Korea kept its benchmark rate steady and struck an upbeat tone, citing signs of an improving trade environment and a resilient domestic backdrop. The Bank of Korea's policy board voted 5-2 to keep the base rate steady at 1.25%, as predicted by all 33 analysts surveyed by Reuters, standing pat for a second meeting following two reductions in July and October last year. The trade-sensitive won is set to appreciate 0.2% for the week, its second successive weekly gain. CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR Change on the day at 0607 GMT Currency Latest bid Previous day Pct Move Japan yen 110.210 110.14 -0.06 Sing dlr 1.346 1.3469 +0.05 Taiwan dlr 29.940 29.955 +0.05 Korean won 1159.500 1161.1 +0.14 Baht 30.490 30.36 -0.43 Peso 50.880 50.84 -0.08 Rupiah 13645.000 13625 -0.15 Rupee 71.005 70.92 -0.13 Ringgit 4.061 4.061 +0.00 Yuan 6.870 6.8800 +0.14 Change so far in 2020 Currency Latest bid End 2019 Pct Move Japan yen 110.210 108.61 -1.45 Sing dlr 1.346 1.3444 -0.13 Taiwan dlr 29.940 30.106 +0.55 Korean won 1159.500 1156.40 -0.27 Baht 30.490 29.91 -1.90 Peso 50.880 50.65 -0.45 Rupiah 13645.000 13880 +1.72 Rupee 71.005 71.38 +0.53 Ringgit 4.061 4.0890 +0.69 Yuan 6.870 6.9632 +1.35 (Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva)