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EMERGING MARKETS-EM assets flat ahead of holidays; Turkey's lira extends gains

Shreyashi Sanyal

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* Lira eyes second consecutive gain

* Russian stocks weighed down by Gazprom

* China stocks post worst one-day drop in six weeks

Dec 23 (Reuters) - Most assets in the developing world were little changed on Monday, as trading volumes were low in a holiday-shortened week, while the Turkish lira stayed on course to rise for a second straight session.

Investors held back from making riskier bets ahead of a Christmas break, with analysts pointing to a bit of profit taking after the MSCI's index of emerging market currencies posted its third straight weekly gain on Friday.

Market participants increased their exposure to emerging market assets recently on optimism over a preliminary trade truce between the United States and China, but the index was down 0.1% on Monday.

"Moves around this time are going to be quite small because of the thinness of trading. I wouldn't expect any major moves now especially after we've had the U.S.-China trade deal," said Jason Tuvey, a senior emerging markets economist at Capital Economics in London.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Saturday the United States and China would "very shortly" sign their so-called Phase 1 trade pact.

Taking some shine off emerging market currencies was a firm dollar, as U.S. data published on Friday pointed to solid economic growth.

The Turkish lira edged higher at the start of the week and remained on course for its second consecutive gain.

"The lira has had a fairly poor month, it's been one of the weakest emerging market currencies because of concerns around renewed sanctions from the U.S. and fears that the central bank may end up going too far with monetary policy easing," said Tuvey.

Turkey's parliament approved the government's 2020 budget, which includes increased defence spending and forecasts a budget deficit of 138.9 billion lira ($23.4 billion).

The Russian rouble was steady against the dollar, while Russian stocks came under pressure from a decline in shares of gas major Gazprom amid news on a gas deal with Ukraine and more U.S. sanctions.

China stocks posted their worst single-day drop in six weeks, weighed down by tech shares after a state fund announced plans to cut its stakes in some of these companies. For GRAPHIC on emerging market FX performance 2019, see http://tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh For GRAPHIC on MSCI emerging index performance 2019, see https://tmsnrt.rs/2OusNdX

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For RUSSIAN market report, see (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich)