* Graphic: World FX rates https://tmsnrt.rs/2RBWI5E
* Asian stock markets: https://tmsnrt.rs/2zpUAr4
* Virus surge dampens risk sentiment across the region
* South Korea reports better-than-expected economic growth
* Malaysian stocks eye worst session in 4-weeks
By Harish Sridharan
April 27 (Reuters) - Asian stocks lacked direction on Tuesday, as a surge in virus cases in the region and the U.S. Federal Reserve's meeting this week kept investors on edge, while stocks in India gained after new coronavirus cases in the country retreated from Monday's record levels.
Indian equities .NSEI rose as much as 1% to hit an over 10-day high, with industrials leading the gains, as investors awaited a slew of quarterly results later in the day.
The coronavirus crisis in the South Asian country, however, remained grim even as the daily rise in cases retreated from record levels on Tuesday, but stayed above the 300,000 mark for a sixth straight day. 2021 would usher in a distinct turnaround in the pandemic situation for the ASEAN-6 (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) countries and India is now confirmed to be a lofty hope," Lavanya Venkateswaran, Market Economist at Mizuho wrote in a note.
"A lot of hope is riding on the vaccination drive in these countries to stem the spread of COVID-19 but so far, the pace of vaccinations has been slow and in the case of India, unable to keep up with the rapid outbreak," she added.
Investors will likely avoid making big bets ahead of the Fed's meeting later this week, where Chair Jerome Powell is likely to shed light on whether improving economic conditions warrant a tapering of monetary easing.
Malaysian shares .KLSE recorded relatively larger losses, falling as much as 1.1% and eyeing their worst session in nearly four weeks. The nation registered 2,776 new COVID-19 cases and 13 deaths on April 26.
"We are seeing surging coronavirus cases in Malaysia ... And the trend seems to be rising," said Margaret Yang, strategist at DailyFX.
"Border controls are tightening across the Asia-Pacific region, and with more cases emerging, opening up in the tourism sector could be delayed further. Tourism-reliant economies such as Thailand, Philippines ... even Malaysia can be vulnerable against this headwind," she added
Thai stocks .SETI edged 0.3% higher, even as the government shuttered parks, gyms and cinemas in Bangkok, the epicentre of the latest wave of infections, as Thailand reported yet another daily record of 15 virus deaths. Korea's economic growth beat expectations in the first quarter, data showed on Tuesday, as global demand surged and the government maintained support for ailing small businesses. The won KRW=KFTC closed 0.3% higher, while the country's shares .KS11 ended the session marginally lower. in Singapore .STI stood firm at 0.1% a day after the city-state reported higher-than-expected manufacturing output for March. Highlights
** In the Philippines, top index loser was Bloomberry Resorts Corp BLOOM.PS , down 3.59%
Asia stock indexes and currencies at
INDEX STOCKS STOCKS
DAILY YTD %
DAILY YTD %
-0.19 -4.66 .N225
+0.04 +0.69 .SSEC
0.04 -0.88 India
+0.18 -2.03 .NSEI
-0.03 -3.07 .JKSE
-0.08 -0.32 Malaysia
+0.02 -1.83 .KLSE
-1.01 -1.24 Philippines PHP=
-0.15 -0.81 .PSI
-0.52 -10.97 S.Korea
+0.25 -2.18 .KS11
-0.07 11.90 Singapore
-0.04 -0.35 .STI
0.09 12.80 Taiwan
+0.24 +2.12 .TWII
0.13 19.44 Thailand
+0.13 -4.49 .SETI
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