Asian currencies weighed down by U.S. rate-hike path
* All Asian currencies set to end week in red
* S.Korea's won falls to more than 13-year low
* Thai baht, Indonesian rupiah at 1-week lows
* China's yuan hits lowest in over three months
By Sameer Manekar
Aug 19 (Reuters) - Asian currencies weakened further on Friday, as a resolve by the U.S. central bank to keep increasing interest rates to bring soaring inflation under control supported the dollar.
The South Korean won KRW=KFTC was the top loser, falling as much as 0.6% to hit its lowest in more than 13 years and marking its fourth straight session of losses, while China's yuan CNY=CFXS eased 0.4% to a more than three-month low.
The yuan is among the region's worst performing currencies so far this year with a drop of more than 6% and remains under pressure from the country's loose monetary policy aimed at propping up the COVID-hit economy.
After the People's Bank of China (PBOC) cut key lending rates in a surprise move earlier this week to revive demand, a group of designated commercial banks are expected to lower the loan prime rate by 10 basis points, a Reuters survey showed.
"We see a risk of yuan depreciation possibly gathering momentum on a lethal combination of deteriorating macro backdrop and geopolitical tensions," analysts at Maybank said in a note.
"The unexpected slowdown in the economy was rather broad-based and the PBOC could remain in easing mode as long as the economy is under pressure from zero-COVID strategy, a weak property sector," they said, adding that yuan could remain under pressure from "fundamental perspective".
All Asian currencies were set to post losses for the week as the dollar held strong and investors digested economic headlines and central bank decisions from the region. The worst performing currency for the week was South Korea's won, down about 2%.
The Thai baht THB=TH , Indonesia's rupiah IDR= and the Singapore dollar SGD= were set to lose more than 1% each for the week, while the Malaysian ringgit MYR= and Philippine peso PHP= were down 0.7% and 0.4%, respectively.
The U.S. dollar index =USD , which measures the greenback against a basket of major peers, hit a one-month high and was set for a 2% weekly gain lifted by the Federal Reserve's tightening outlook.
Meanwhile, the rupiah, which has firmed more than 1% since hitting a more than two-year low on July 21, was down marginally for the day on market chatter the Bank Indonesia (BI) would keep its benchmark interest rate at a record low next week.
Analysts at Barclays and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) expect BI - one of the few laggards in the region yet to start monetary policy tightening - to maintain its loose monetary policy following a recent recovery in the currency.
However, a rate hike is expected at the central bank's September meeting. With growth accelerating in the second quarter, data suggesting robust economic activity and upside risks to inflation rising, BI's rate lift-off is expected to begin in September, analysts at ANZ said.
Equity markets were largely mixed on Friday, with most of them on track to end the week on a positive note. Shares in Malaysia .KLSE , Thailand .SETI , the Philippines .PSI , India .NSEI and Indonesia .JKSE were set for gains between 0.5% and 2%.
** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields tick higher to 7.097%
** Japan's inflation holds above BOJ target, price pressures broaden
** Indonesia current account surplus widens in Q2 to 1.1% of GDP
at 0616 GMT
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Reporting by Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu
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