Philippine shares gain on upbeat data, looser virus curbs
* EM assets in Asia lack direction
* China shares drop; Evergrande slumps further
* Malaysian markets closed for public holiday
By Harish Sridharan
Sept 16 (Reuters) - Philippine shares eyed their best session in two weeks and led gains among emerging Asian markets on Thursday, as the country's capital region transitioned to looser movement restrictions and robust economic data aided sentiment.
Equities in the broader region were largely subdued, however, with declines in China overshadowing a strong overnight lead from Wall Street.
Shares in China .SSEC fell 0.7%, while South Korea .KS11 dropped 0.6% to snap a four-day rally.
Stocks in Manila .PSI snapped a three-day losing streak to rise 0.8% and were on track for their best day since Sept. 3. The peso PHP= , meanwhile, weakened 0.4% after two straight sessions of gains.
The government said this week it would shift from large-scale curbs to localised lockdowns in its capital-region to balance economic recovery and health risks, while on Wednesday, the nation's cash remittances showed a 2.5% rise from last year.
"(The) market could move north as investors take opportunities out of the three-day decline. The growth in July cash remittances may help spur positive sentiment," Manila-based brokerage Philstocks said.
Separately, the Philippine government offered $866.2 million worth of retail dollar bonds at a price-setting auction on Wednesday to raise extra cash for pandemic recovery, promote bond market activity and boost foreign exchange inflows.
Uncertainty around both the U.S Federal Reserve's timeline for tapering asset purchases and a global economic rebound from the pandemic prevented investors from making big bets and led to choppy trading in Asian markets.
Regional currencies traded sideways against a largely unchanged dollar, as market participants looked to next week's Fed policy meeting for indications on the bank's hawkish tilt.
Cash-strapped Chinese real estate giant Evergrande 3333.HK fell a further 9%, while blue-chip stocks .CSI300 shed 0.7%, a day after weaker-than-expected economic data cast a shadow on the country's growth prospects.
** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields are up 0.3 basis points at 6.176%
** In the Philippines, top index gainer was Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc AEV.PS , up 5.36
** KOSPI .KS11 on track for worst day since Sept. 9
Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0438 GMT COUNTRY
INDEX STOCKS STOCK
DAILY YTD %
DAILY S YTD
+0.06 -5.54 .N225
-0.79 10.29 China
-0.02 +1.46 .SSEC
-0.68 4.56 India
+0.02 -0.56 .NSEI
0.18 25.53 Indonesia
+0.04 -1.37 .JKSE
0.03 2.22 Philippines PHP=
-0.37 -3.78 .PSI
0.80 -2.86 S.Korea
+0.00 -7.20 .KS11
-0.64 9.04 Singapore
-0.06 -1.54 .STI
0.26 7.83 Taiwan
+0.09 +2.89 .TWII
-0.50 17.21 Thailand
-0.09 -8.94 .SETI
Graphic: World FX rates Link
Asian stock markets Link
Reporting by Harish Sridharan in Bengaluru; editing by Richard
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