December 14, 2016 / 6:56 AM / 8 months ago

EM ASIA FX-Asian currencies slip, focus on Fed's rate outlook

(Adds text, updates prices)
    * Most Asian currencies edge lower vs dollar
    * Ringgit, Singapore dollar, Philippine peso, yuan slip
    * Fed widely expected to raise rates by 25 bps
    * Focus on 2017 rate projections, Yellen's remarks

    By Masayuki Kitano
    SINGAPORE, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Most emerging Asian currencies
retreated on Wednesday as investors awaited the U.S. Federal
Reserve's policy statement and economic projections for clues on
just how much U.S. interest rates might rise next year.
    The Singapore dollar and Malaysian ringgit 
slipped 0.2 percent, while the Philippine peso,
Chinese yuan and South Korean won also
edged lower.
    Most Asian currencies have regained some ground against the
U.S. dollar in December as the greenback took a breather after
last month's rally, which was triggered by Donald Trump's
victory in the U.S. presidential election.
    The dollar had surged in November as U.S. bond yields pushed
higher on expectations of higher fiscal spending when Trump
takes office, and speculation that the possible boost to U.S.
growth and inflation could prompt the Fed to raise interest
rates at a faster pace than the market had previously expected.
    At its policy decision due later on Wednesday, the Fed is
widely expected to raise interest rates by a quarter of a
percentage point from the current target range of 0.25 percent
to 0.50 percent. 
    Investors will be watching to see whether the Fed has
upgraded its view on the growth and inflation outlook after the
U.S. election, and for hints on the possible pace of interest
rate increases in 2017.
    A 25-basis point Fed rate hike on Wednesday is "pretty much
a done deal" and BlackRock's base case is for the possibility of
two Fed rate hikes in 2017, said Neeraj Seth, head of Asian
Credit for BlackRock.
    "The markets move in expectation and anticipation of
inflation, reflation, growth trajectory. FOMC will like to look
at more evidence before you shift views," Seth said at a media
briefing.
    It will be difficult for the Fed to make predictions around
possible fiscal stimulus, and it will probably wait to see what
actually comes out and evaluate the impact at its policy
meetings next year, Seth added.     
    Another focus is what the Fed might say about the dollar's
recent strength and the rise in U.S. bond yields.
    "The Fed and Yellen need to watch how fast the U.S. dollar
and yields have moved of late. That is a tightening of financial
conditions which the Fed has been traditionally concerned
about," said Lee Jin Yang, macro research analyst for Aberdeen
Asset Management in Singapore.
    The recent move higher in the dollar and U.S. bond yields
may be somewhat overextended, Lee said, adding that they could
both pull back in the near term if there are no hawkish-sounding
surprises from the Fed and Yellen.

    CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR
  Change on the day at   0642 GMT                            
  Currency                     Latest bid   Previous      Pct
                                                 day     Move
  Japan yen                        115.12     115.18    +0.05
  Sing dlr                         1.4259     1.4235    -0.17
  Taiwan dlr                       31.764     31.822    +0.18
  Korean won                      1168.63    1167.00    -0.14
  Baht                              35.58      35.58    +0.00
  Peso                             49.820     49.775    -0.09
  Rupiah                            13285      13305    +0.15
  Rupee                             67.56      67.55    -0.02
  Ringgit                          4.4445     4.4340    -0.24
  Yuan                             6.9053     6.9000    -0.08
                                                             
  Change so far                                              
 in 2016                                              
  Currency                     Latest bid   End prev      Pct
                                                year     Move
  Japan yen                        115.12     120.30    +4.50
  Sing dlr                         1.4259     1.4177    -0.58
  Taiwan dlr                       31.764     33.066    +4.10
  Korean won                      1168.63    1172.50    +0.33
  Baht                              35.58      36.00    +1.17
  Peso                              49.82      47.06    -5.54
  Rupiah                            13285      13785    +3.76
  Rupee                             67.56      66.15    -2.09
  Ringgit                          4.4445     4.2935    -3.40
  Yuan                             6.9053     6.4936    -5.96
 
 (Reporting by Masayuki Kitano; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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