EM ASIA FX-China GDP gives Asia FX temporary pain-killer; outlook dim

Fri Jul 13, 2012 1:30pm IST

* Sing dlr eases on weak Q2 GDP, some see policy easing
    * Won turns higher on exporters, but down 1.1 pct for week
    * China GDP relief may not last long - analysts, dealers

 (Adds details, updates prices)
    By Jongwoo Cheon
    SINGAPORE, July 13 (Reuters) - Most emerging Asian
currencies turned higher on Friday as investors covered short
positions after China's growth data provided brief support, but
most regional units were set for weekly losses on worries about
the slowing global economy.
    Early in the day, Asia ex-Japan currencies slid as data
showed Singapore economy surprisingly contracted in the second
quarter and South Korea's central bank lowered growth forecasts.
    But emerging Asian units such as the Philippine peso
recouped those losses after China's second-quarter growth met
market expectations, prompting investors to unwind bearish bets
which they had built up in anticipation of a weaker number.
    The world's No.2 economy grew 7.6 percent in April-June
quarter from a year earlier, its slowest pace in three years.
 
    The Indian rupee and the South Korean won
 found further support from demand from corporates
such as South Korean exporters, dealers said.
    Still, fears of a slowdown in the global economy and euro
zone debt problems have dampened sentiment for riskier assets
such as emerging Asian currencies, whose economies are largely
export driven, dealers and analysts said.
    Moody's Investors Service surprised markets early in the day
by downgrading Italy's government bond rating by two notches to
Baa2 and warned it could cut further. 
    Credit Agricole CIB said in a note that weaker growth
numbers in major markets and emerging countries, as well as a
lack of details on European debt plans have opened the door to
the markets possibly pricing in a harsher global slowdown.
    "The third quarter will still likely to be under a largely
risk-off trading environment. So, emerging Asian currencies
would be vulnerable," said Frances Cheung, the bank's senior
strategist in Hong Kong.
    Emmanuel Ng, foreign exchange strategist at OCBC Bank in
Singapore, expected more negative shocks from the global
economy, but expected them to be tempered by hopes that the U.S.
Federal Reserve and Bank of Japan may ease monetary conditions
further.
    Ng also expected further bouts of risk aversion in the third
quarter that would check any strength in Asian currencies.
    The sense of gloom worsened following Singapore data showing
its economy shrank 1.1 percent, on an annualised seasonally
adjusted basis, in the second quarter from the previous three
months, missing a Reuters poll forecast for 0.3 percent growth.
 
    South Korea's central bank also lowered this year's economic
growth and inflation forecasts, supporting expectations of a
further rate cut after the bank on Thursday announced its first
cut in more than three years, surprising the market.
 
    The reduction in the base rate by 25 basis points to 3.0
percent put the won on course to be the worst performing
emerging Asian currency this week, according to Thomson Reuters
data. The South Korean unit lost 1.1 percent against the dollar.
    "While the market was too fixated on QE3 by the Fed, the
view is being challenged. And the risk now is not Fed doing a
QE3 but Asia instead kicking off its first QE," said Suresh
Kumar Ramanathan, head of regional interest rate and FX strategy
at CIMB Investment Bank in Kuala Lumpur, referring to monetary
policy stimulus of quantitative easing.
    
    WON
    The won initially hit a two-week low of 1,155.4 as the
central bank cut its 2012 GDP growth forecast to 3.0 percent
from a 3.5 percent.
    But it turned firmer to end local trade at 1,150.3 after
China's economic growth data and as offshore funds and exporters
bought it on dips.
    Still, the currency's outlook is not bright as foreign
investors continued to sell the country's stocks and bond
futures.
    Foreign investors sold a combined net 1.26 Korean won ($1.09
billion) in the country's main stock exchange during the five
consecutive sessions, according to data from the Korea Exchange.
    South Korean interest rate swaps (IRS) also extended their
plunge. Five-year IRS dropped to 2.900 percent,
the lowest since 1999 as offshore funds cut their paid positions
following the rate cut. One-year IRS also
dropped to the lowest since October 2010.
    That indicated foreigners are pricing in more rate cuts in
the near term, especially after the central bank cut growth
outlook. Investors had paid short-dated fixed swaps because
floating rate was high and they could earn a decent carry were
stopped out of their positions by the rate cut.
    
    SINGAPORE DOLLAR
    The Singapore dollar eased as sluggish
second-quarter growth data prompted some expectations that the
Monetary Authority of Singapore may ease its policy in October
meeting.
    The city-state's currency also came under pressure as
investors took profits from its gains against the Malaysian
ringgit.
    But the Singapore dollar found some support as hedge funds
bought it on dips.
    
    INDONESIAN RUPIAH
    The rupiah slid on selling from foreign banks,
although the central bank was spotted buying it through
state-run banks.
    Investors were looking to sell the rupiah on any rallies,
dealers said.
    "It is really hard to see dollar/rupiah to go below 9,350,"
said a Jakarta-based dealer, adding the level would be good to
buy dollars.        
    
  CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR   
  Change on the day at 0720 GMT
  Japan yen        79.26          79.29       +0.04
  Sing dlr        1.2701         1.2689       -0.09
  Taiwan dlr      29.991         30.013       +0.07
  Korean won     1150.99        1151.50       +0.04
  Baht             31.73          31.81       +0.25
  Peso             42.05          42.08       +0.07
  Rupiah         9473.00        9440.00       -0.35
  Rupee            55.63          55.93       +0.55
  Ringgit         3.1890         3.1900       +0.03
  Yuan            6.3793         6.3733       -0.09
 
  Change so far in 2012
  Currency    Latest bid  End prev year    Pct Move
  Japan yen        79.26          76.92       -2.95
  Sing dlr        1.2701         1.2969       +2.11
  Taiwan dlr      29.991         30.290       +1.00
  Korean won     1150.99        1151.80       +0.07
  Baht             31.73          31.55       -0.57
  Peso             42.05          43.84       +4.26
  Rupiah         9473.00        9060.00       -4.36
  Rupee            55.63          53.08       -4.58
  Ringgit         3.1890         3.1685       -0.64
  Yuan            6.3793         6.2940       -1.34
 ($1 = 1151.4000 Korean won)
(Additional reporting by Chang Tae-min in SEOUL, Yingchien Lee
in TAIPEI, Saikat Chartterjee in HONG KONG and IFR Markets'
Catherine Tan; Editing by Kim Coghill)
 
   
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 (Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
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