Thai baht, won lead Asian currencies higher as dollar cools
* Thai baht among top gainers
* BOK hikes rates by 25 bps, as expected
* Fed's Jackson Hole symposium awaited
By Upasana Singh
Aug 25 (Reuters) - Languishing Asian emerging currencies got a lift on Thursday as the U.S. dollar took a breather ahead of the Federal Reserve's Jackson Hole conference, with the Thai baht leading the pack despite a growing political crisis.
The baht THB=TH appreciated 0.4% and stocks .SETI rose 0.5%, a day after Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha was suspended from his official duties while a court considers whether he can remain in office.
Prayuth first came to office in a 2014 coup and has survived a disputed election, mass protests and no-confidence votes. An opposition party seeking his ouster says he has already held office for his full, legally mandated term.
"The THB reaction could imply that markets may be looking past such bouts of political uncertainty to focus on other key drivers such as Thailand's current account outlook and the Fed's tone out of Jackson Hole," Maybank analysts said in a note.
Other regional units got a fillip from the U.S. dollar index =USD easing 0.2% from near a two-decade peak as investors awaited the upcoming Jackson Hole symposium wherein a speech by Federal Chair Jerome Powell could provide fresh clues on future policy tightening.
The Federal Reserve's annual monetary policy conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming is scheduled to start on Friday.
South Korea's won KRW=KFTC firmed 0.4%, following a 25 basis points (bps) hike, as expected, by the country's central bank to tame inflation that is now at an almost 24-year high.
Bank of Korea (BOK), one of the first central banks to abandon pandemic-era monetary stimulus, also raised this year's inflation forecast to 5.2% - the fastest rate since 1998.
"If CPI inflation doesn't moderate by October and the KRW continues to weaken, then the possibility of an additional 25bp hike in November will grow," ING analysts said.
Singapore's dollar SGD= , Malaysia ringgit MYR= appreciated 0.2% each, while Indonesia's rupiah IDR= rose 0.1%and Philippine's peso PHP= was flat.
Stock markets in the region were mixed, with Singapore's benchmark index .STI leading declines by retreating 2.1%. Equities in Seoul .KS11 and stocks in Kuala Lumpur .KLSE advanced 1% and 1.3%, respectively.
China's yuan CNY=CFXS rose 0.1% and rebounded from a two-year low against the dollar after a higher-than-expected guidance, which market participants viewed as a signed authorities are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with rapid yuan losses.
The yuan has lost more than 1.6% against the dollar so far in August.
** Thailand expects 4.5 mln foreign tourists from Jan to Aug - govt
** China regulator warns banks against yuan selling - sources
** Technology giant Samsung Electronics 005930.KS and peer SK Hynix 000660.KS among top gainers on South Korea's benchmark index .KS11
The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against the dollar at 0446 GMT. COUNTRY FX RIC
FX INDE STOCKS STOCKS
DAILY % YTD %
X DAILY YTD %
+0.29 -15.8 <.N2 0.63 -1.04
+0.11 -7.23 <.SS
-0.04 -6.90 <.NS
+0.12 -3.89 <.JK -0.20
+0.22 -6.93 <.KL
+0.04 -9.01 <.PS -1.08 -1.52 nes
+0.38 -11.0 <.KS
+0.19 -3.02 <.ST -2.11
+0.17 -8.37 <.TW
+0.38 -7.06 <.SE
Reporting by Upasana Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim Coghill