EMERGING MARKETS-Asian currencies, stocks tepid ahead of key U.S. Senate vote

    * Indonesian rupiah eases 
    * Chinese yuan trades flat after initial gains 
    * Philippine stocks lead losses, down 1%

    By Anushka Trivedi
    Jan 5 (Reuters) - Most Asian currencies were flat-to-lower
on Tuesday as investors refrained from making big bets ahead of
crucial U.S. Senate  elections that could determine the dollar's
long-term trend.
    The Philippine peso was steady after the central bank
signalled it would keep interest rates low for the next few
quarters, playing down the risk of higher prices even as
inflation hit its highest in nearly two years in December.
    Manila's stocks slumped 1% to their lowest in more
than one week.
    The Malaysian ringgit and the Singapore dollar
 were little changed, while the South Korean won
 fell 0.5%. The Taiwanese dollar bucked the
wider trend with gains of 1.6%.
    Investors looked towards runoff U.S. Senate elections on
Tuesday, which will determine the balance of power in Washington
with implications for incoming President Joe Biden's economic
    A Democratic victory would hand the party control of the
Senate, potentially leading to more tax reforms and fiscal
stimulus, but the races were tight and the results may not be
immediately known.
    "Odds of a Democrat Senate may be associated with a faster
pick-up in U.S. Treasury yields as well as inflation
expectations," said Venkateswaran Lavanya at Mizuho Bank in a
research note.
   "Higher nominal U.S. Treasury yields could be more disruptive
for emerging markets," Lavanya said, adding that the U.S. dollar
would gain ground against emerging currencies in that scenario.
    The Indonesian rupiah, which underpins one of Asia's
most popular bond markets among foreign investors, weakened 0.2%
after surging in the previous session on heavy bond inflows.
    The Chinese yuan gave up 0.5% of early gains to
trade flat by midday. The yuan had rallied initially after the
country's central bank lifted the midpoint by the most since the
currency was revalued in 2005.    
    Most Asian stocks drifted lower, taking their cue from a
weak finish on Wall Street as U.S. Senate elections and surging
coronavirus cases globally played on investors' minds.
    Shares in Malaysia and India were down about
0.5% each, but Thailand's bourse firmed, with some
investors relieved authorities were holding off on imposing a
national lockdown despite rising infections.
    ** Indonesian 3-year benchmark yields are up about 7.4 basis
points at 5.005%
    ** Taiwan's exports in December likely rose for a sixth
straight month - poll
    ** In the Philippines, top index losers are GT Capital
Holdings Inc down 6% and Puregold Price Club Inc
 down 4.2%

  Asia stock indexes and currencies                                                        
 at  0436 GMT                                                                 
 Japan                         +0.07      +0.20                        -0.56          -1.23
 China                         -0.02      +1.01                        -0.05           0.81
 India                         -0.16      -0.10                        -0.24           0.83
 Indonesia                     -0.18      +0.93                         0.22           2.33
 Malaysia                      -0.05      +0.35                        -0.61          -2.12
 Philippines                   +0.01      -0.03                        -1.06          -0.26
 S.Korea                       -0.50      -0.12                        -0.23           2.24
 Singapore                     +0.08      +0.12                        -0.28           0.24
 Taiwan                        +1.57      +1.78                         0.23           1.38
 Thailand                      -0.07      +0.23                         0.34           1.65

 (Reporting by Anushka Trivedi in Bengaluru; Editing by Ana
Nicolaci da Costa)