* Malaysia stocks hit highest since June 2022
* Indonesia stocks eye best week in 3 months
* Most currencies on track for weekly losses

By Himanshi Akhand
       Feb 16 (Reuters) - Emerging Asian currencies held
largely steady on Friday, but were on track to post weekly
losses, while regional equities tracked Wall Street higher after
a big drop in U.S. retail sales firmed expectations of a June
rate cut by the Federal Reserve.
    Stocks in Singapore rose as much as 1.4% to hit their
highest in more than a month, while Malaysian equities
advanced 0.4% to touch a level unseen since June 2022.
    South Korea and India rose 1.2% and 0.4%,
respectively. Equities in Taiwan inched lower, but were
near a record high reached on Thursday.
    Data released overnight showed that U.S. retail sales fell
by the most in 10 months in January, relieving some stress about
the hotter-than-expected inflation report that came earlier this
    Traders are now pricing in an 80% chance of a Fed rate cut
in June, according to the CME FedWatch tool.
    The dollar fell overnight but was steady in early Asia
trade. It was on track for its fifth straight weekly gain.

    "Weaker retail sales will probably reduce expectations of 1Q
GDP growth and should temper fears that the economy may be
overheating again. That said, we caution against reading too
much into any single data point," analysts at DBS wrote.
    "We still see soft-landing as the most likely scenario and
prefer to fade extremes in USD rates movements." 
    Currencies in Asia traded in a tight range. The Singapore
dollar was flat but set for a sixth straight weekly
    The Malaysian ringgit and the Thai baht were
both on track for a second consecutive weekly drop.
    In Indonesia, the rupiah inched down 0.1% on Friday.
Stocks extended gains, rising as much as 0.9% to their
highest in more than a month, and were set for their best week
since mid-November.
    Unofficial counts showed Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto
comfortably winning the country's hotly contested presidential
election in a single round.
    Investors stayed optimistic about Prabowo's promise to
follow President Joko Widodo policies in Southeast Asia's
largest economy.
    The Philippine peso was largely flat while stocks
 rose 0.4%, a day after the country's central bank kept
its benchmark interest rate steady, as expected.
    The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said that risks to the
inflation outlook had receded, but they remained tilted towards
the upside and, therefore, warranted caution.  
    DBS analysts expect the BSP to be mindful of the Fed's
policy direction and its impact on the domestic currency, and
don't see the central bank shifting to a dovish bias. 
    Next week, investors will focus on the Bank of Korea and
Bank Indonesia's policy rate decisions, along with inflation
data from Malaysia and Singapore and gross domestic product
(GDP) numbers from Thailand.
    China markets are set to reopen on Monday after the
week-long Lunar New Year holidays and investors will be waiting
to see what authorities could do next to shore up the country's
battered stock market after appointing a new markets regulator
just before the break.
    ** Malaysia's economy finishes 2023 on softer footing amid
weak global demand
    ** Thailand sticking with handout plan to lift 'fragile'
    ** Nikkei races to fresh 34-year high, all-time peak in

  Asia stock indexes and currencies                       
 at 0515 GMT                                        
                      DAILY %  YTD %     X   DAILY   YTD %
 Japan                  -0.24  -6.13  <.N2   1.21   15.41
 China                               EC>           
 India                  +0.05  +0.24  <.NS    0.58    1.41
 Indonesi               -0.13  -1.54  <.JK    0.63    1.05
 a                                    SE>           
 Malaysia               +0.03  -3.90  <.KL    0.17    5.24
 Philippi               +0.07  -1.02  <.PS    0.36    7.08
 nes                                  I>            
 S.Korea                             11>           
 Singapor               -0.04  -2.01  <.ST    1.31   -0.68
 e                                    I>            
 Taiwan                 +0.18  -2.02  <.TW   -0.15    3.83
 Thailand               -0.06  -5.29  <.SE   -0.06   -2.07

 (Reporting by Himanshi Akhand in Bengaluru; Editing by
Subhranshu Sahu)