EM ASIA FX-Units set to post weekly losses as virus fears deepen

By Aby Jose Koilparambil

* World Health Organization declares global emergency * Health body but stops short of China trade restrictions * Philippine peso, Taiwan dollar gain on the day * South Korean won slips to worst level in 7 weeks (Adds text, updates prices) By Aby Jose Koilparambil Jan 31 (Reuters) - Most Asian currencies were set to record weekly losses on Friday as risk sentiment took a hit on fears that the rapidly-spreading coronavirus in China could hurt its economy. Amid persisting concerns about the outbreak, which has killed more than 200 people so far in China and infected thousands globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global emergency on Thursday. Most major Asian economies count China as a crucial trade partner. The epidemic could temporarily reduce China's gross domestic product to 5%, while trade and tourism are likely to weigh on GDP for Australia and much of Asia, ANZ Research analysts said in a note. However, some markets drew relief as the WHO stopped short of recommending any restrictions on trade and travel. The Philippine peso gained about 0.3%, but was poised for a 0.2% weekly loss and 0.5% monthly fall. Likewise, the Taiwan dollar appreciated about 0.2% to mark its best session in more than two weeks, but was set for a 0.7% weekly fall and 0.4% monthly loss. The Taiwan dollar had slid nearly a percent on Thursday as investors priced in the virus impact while returning from a five-day Lunar New Year break. The Indian rupee was little changed a day ahead of the federal budget announcement as the country faces its worst economic slowdown in a decade. The currency is set to depreciate about 0.2% for the week. The Thai baht, the Singapore dollar, the Indonesian rupiah and the Malaysian ringgit were all flat, but were on track to post steep weekly losses. The Chinese offshore yuan was little changed at 6.9789, but was 0.7% weaker for the week. Onshore markets were closed on account of the extended Lunar New year holidays and will resume trading on Feb. 3. An official survey showed growth in China's factory activity faltered in January, as export orders fell, while the virus outbreak added to risks. WON WEAKENS The South Korean slipped up to 0.6% to its weakest level in seven weeks and was set for a fifth consecutive session of losses. South Korea's December factory output exceeded forecasts as soaring chip production fuelled industrial activity, but the for the whole of last year, it fell 0.7%, in its worst reading since 1998. Change on the day at 0608 GMT Currency Latest bid Previous day Pct Move Japan yen 109.030 108.95 -0.07 Sing dlr 1.363 1.3615 -0.07 Taiwan dlr 30.232 30.277 +0.15 Korean won 1189.500 1185 -0.38 Baht 31.140 31.11 -0.10 Peso 50.865 50.98 +0.23 Rupiah 13650.000 13640 -0.07 Rupee 71.503 71.48 -0.03 Ringgit 4.087 4.0855 -0.04 Change so far in 2020 Currency Latest bid End 2019 Pct Move Japan yen 109.030 108.61 -0.39 Sing dlr 1.363 1.3444 -1.33 Taiwan dlr 30.232 30.106 -0.42 Korean won 1189.500 1156.40 -2.78 Baht 31.140 29.91 -3.95 Peso 50.865 50.65 -0.42 Rupiah 13650.000 13880 +1.68 Rupee 71.503 71.38 -0.17 Ringgit 4.087 4.0890 +0.05 Yuan 6.937 6.9632 +0.38 (Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)