EM ASIA FX-Sing dlr at 3-mth low; intervention hits won

Mon Jan 7, 2013 1:33pm IST

* Sing dlr down on model funds; may head to 1.2336 vs US dlr
    * Won turns weaker after 17-mth high as intervention spotted
    * Taiwan dlr up on exporters; stock outflows cap

 (Adds text, updates prices)
    By Jongwoo Cheon
    SINGAPORE, Jan 7 (Reuters) - The Singapore dollar hit a
three-month low on Monday as investors cut long positions in
anticipation that the Monetary Authority of Singapore could
intervene to dampen the currency's strength, while South Korean
authorities pushed down the won.
    Though most other Asian currencies gained, their upside was
limited by investors' wariness over the potential for
intervention by central banks, dealers said.
    "We should open a door to dollar buying intervention by
almost all Asian countries, except Indonesia," said Yuna Park, a
currency and bond analyst at Dongbu Securities in Seoul.
    Model funds and interbank speculators sold the Singapore
dollar, while investors also showed interest in selling
the city-state's currency against the Malaysian
ringgit.
    The Singapore dollar touched 1.2314 against the U.S. dollar,
its weakest since Oct. 10, and technical factors could push it
down to 1.2336, its weakest since October last year.
    The city-state's currency has lost 0.7 percent so far this
year, according to Thomson Reuters data.
    Manufacturing activity in Singapore contracted for a sixth
consecutive month in December, bucking the improvement seen in
many other countries, an industry survey showed last week.
 
    The weak data was seen raising chances that the Monetary
Authority of Singapore would intervene to dampen the strength of
a Singapore dollar that rose 6.1 percent against the U.S. dollar
last year.
    "The data remains fairly poor, so that is seeing the
Singapore dollar underperform some of the other currencies
within the region," said Jonathan Cavenagh, a senior FX
strategist at Westpac in Singapore.
    The won turned weaker after hitting a 17-month
high against the dollar as the South Korean authorities were
spotted selling the currency to forestall further appreciation,
prompting traders to cover short dollar positions, dealers said.
    In contrast to regional peers trying to slow down
appreciation in their currencies, Indonesia's central bank has
been spotted selling dollars to prop up the rupiah.
    Still, dealers and analysts expect emerging Asian currencies
to stay firm due to expectations that the Bank of Japan will
deliver more policy stimulus.
    Japan's newly-elected Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reiterated
his call for bold easing by the central bank, big fiscal
spending and an economic growth strategy as steps towards
conquering deflation. 
    
    WON
    The won ended trading in Seoul weaker due to central bank
intervention having hit its strongest since Aug. 4 at 1,060.4
per dollar.
    The authorities' intervention came as the South Korean
currency hovered near a chart resistance of 12.000 to
the yen.
    On Friday, the won touched 12.0149, its firmest since May
2010 to the Japanese unit.
    The won's strength against the yen is seen eroding South
Korean exporters' competitiveness against their Japanese
competitors.
    Regardless of the authorities' efforts, the won is expected
to appreciate further, heading to 1,049.1 per dollar, its 2011
peak, and 11.6872 versus the yen, its 2010 peak.
    With the market trading around 1063 per dollar, traders said
 exporters were poised to buy won should the authorities succeed
in pushing it back to 1,065.
    "The won will keep finding support. It may be difficult to
add short-term positions, but the won's bullish trend remains
intact," said a foreign bank dealer in Seoul.
    
    TAIWAN DOLLAR
    The Taiwan dollar advanced as exporters bought it
when it weakened beyond 29.000 to the U.S. dollar, dealers said.
    But market players did not dare to push currency any
stronger due to fear of possible central bank intervention.
    The caution prompted some foreign banks to cover short U.S.
dollar positions. Some foreign financial institutions exiting
weak Taiwanese stocks also sold the Taiwan dollar to repatriate
their money, dealers said.
    
    RUPIAH
    The rupiah fell on persistent dollar buying by corporates,
and dealers said the Indonesian central bank was selling
dollars.
    The rupiah's indicative prices weakened 0.5 percent to 9,700
per dollar on exchange pages, but traders said its real prices
were weaker with 9,810 traded.
    Some foreign banks bought the rupiah, possibly due to an
inflow of funds to invest in a Jakarta stock market that
hit a record high before giving up some ground.
    But the inflow of funds headed for the share market was
expected to take some pressure of the rupiah, dealers added.
    
  CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR
  Change on the day at 0655 GMT
  Currency    Latest bid   Previous day    Pct Move
  Japan yen        87.74          88.16       +0.48
  Sing dlr        1.2309         1.2274       -0.28
  Taiwan dlr      28.999         29.125       +0.43
  Korean won     1063.55        1063.60       +0.00
  Baht             30.43          30.51       +0.26
  Peso             40.91          40.91       +0.00
  Rupiah         9700.00        9655.00       -0.46
  Rupee            54.99          55.07       +0.15
  Ringgit         3.0429         3.0470       +0.13
  Yuan            6.2298         6.2303       +0.01
 
  Change so far in 2013
  Currency    Latest bid  End prev year    Pct Move
  Japan yen        87.74          86.79       -1.08
  Sing dlr        1.2309         1.2219       -0.73
  Taiwan dlr      28.999         29.136       +0.47
  Korean won     1063.55        1070.60       +0.66
  Baht             30.43          30.61       +0.59
  Peso             40.91          41.05       +0.34
  Rupiah         9700.00        9630.00       -0.72
  Rupee            54.99          54.99       +0.00
  Ringgit         3.0429         3.0580       +0.50
  Yuan            6.2298         6.2303       +0.01
 
 (Additional reporting by Yena Park in SEOUL, Miao-jung Lin in
TAIPEI, IFR Markets' Catherine Tan, Reuters FX Analysts Rick
Lloyd and Krishna Kumar; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
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