* Philippine peso down 0.4%
* Singapore stocks down 0.7%
* Thailand and Indonesia Feb CPI due Friday

By Ayushman Ojha
       Feb 28 (Reuters) - Most Asian currencies inched lower on
Wednesday while equities were largely mixed as traders remained
cautious ahead of a key U.S. inflation reading due on Thursday
that could give clues on the timing of rate cuts by the Federal
    The Philippine peso was down 0.4% and the Indonesian
rupiah weakened 0.3%, both on track for their fourth
consecutive decline.
    The Malaysian ringgit was largely unchanged at 4.758
per U.S. dollar after gaining 0.3% in the previous session. The
currency briefly touched its lowests since January 1998 last
    The response from Malaysia's central bank echoed Prime
Minister Anwar Ibrahim's sentiment that the currency is
undervalued and should be trading higher on account of positive
fundamentals and prospects for the economy. 
    "The combination of weak domestic fundamentals, lack of USD
sellers, lower FDI inflows, persistent portfolio outflows and
the absence of central bank intervention drove MYR weakness,"
analysts at Goldman Sachs wrote.
    They think there is scope for the ringgit to weaken further
as the Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) will not intervene heavily in
the FX markets given its moderate level of FX reserves.
    Meanwhile, stocks in the region were mixed ahead of U.S.
core personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index data -
Fed's preferred measure of inflation - scheduled for release on
    The PCE is expected to have risen 0.3% on a monthly basis in
January, according to a Reuters poll showed.
    Markets currently anticipate June to be the starting point
of the Fed's easing cycle compared with March at the start of
the year.
    In Asia, Singapore shares were down as much as 0.7%,
on track for their fourth straight fall, while Malaysian
equities lost as much as 0.5%.
    Meanwhile, Indonesia stocks were 0.6% higher and
South Korean shares gained as much as 1.2%.
    Amongst local data, the focus is on a February inflation
report from Indonesia and Thailand, both due on Friday.
    Investors are also looking out for any signals on policy
easing by regional central banks, with recent inflation prints
from Southeast Asian economies showing a downward trend in
    Markets in Taiwan were closed on Wednesday for a
public holiday.
    ** India's fourth quarter GDP due on Thursday and China's
Feb PMI data due on Friday
    ** Thai c.bank to allow asset management firms to tackle
household debt
    ** Hong Kong scraps property tightening measures to aid
economic recovery

  Asia stock indexes and                            
 currencies at 0458 GMT                        
                     DAILY   YTD     X      S  S YTD
                         %     %        DAILY      %
 Japan               -0.08  -6.3  <.N2  0.01   17.27
                               5  25>          
 China                       1  EC>          
 India               -0.02  +0.3  <.NS   0.10   2.25
                               5  EI>          
 Indones             -0.26  -1.7  <.JK   0.42   0.59
 ia                            9  SE>          
 Malaysi             +0.04  -3.5  <.KL  -0.51   6.61
 a                             3  SE>          
 Philipp             -0.36  -1.3  <.PS  -0.15   6.20
 ines                          9  I>           
 S.Korea                     7  11>          
 Singapo             -0.08  -1.9  <.ST  -0.32  -2.88
 re                            2  I>           
 Taiwan                  -  -2.6  <.TW      -   5.15
                               4  II>          
 Thailan             -0.38  -5.0  <.SE  -0.70  -2.25
 d                             6  TI>          
 (Reporting by Ayushman Ojha in Bengaluru; Editing by Michael