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EM ASIA FX-Won, baht hit multi-month lows on worry over Fed rate hike pace
December 21, 2016 / 6:23 AM / 7 months ago

EM ASIA FX-Won, baht hit multi-month lows on worry over Fed rate hike pace

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* Won hits 9-month low, edges closer to 1,200 per dollar
    * S.Korean official tell traders: Don't push won too low
    * Baht touches an 11-month low

 (Adds text, updates prices)
    By Masayuki Kitano
    SINGAPORE, Dec 21 (Reuters) - The South Korean won and the
Thai baht hit multi-month lows against the dollar on Wednesday,
weighed down by expectations of a faster pace of U.S. interest
rate increases after Donald Trump becomes president on Jan. 20. 
    The Thai baht hit a trough of 36.076, falling to
levels last seen in January. The won touched 1,196.3
per dollar, its lowest level since March. 
    As the won slipped, a South Korean official in charge of
foreign exchange markets cautioned traders about pushing the
currency too low, highlighting the 1,200 level per dollar level 
as a key area to watch. 
    Such remarks probably reflect concerns about the risk that a
weakening won could spur capital outflows from South Korean
assets, said Satoshi Okagawa, senior global markets analyst for
Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation in Singapore.
    "For South Korea, won weakness might normally be seen as
being desirable," Okagawa said, noting the export-dependent
nature of the country's economy.
    "But the problem is that it could lead to trouble if that
(won weakness) were to be accompanied by fund outflows from
bonds and equities," he added. 
    The Philippine peso languished near an eight-year
low hit in late November of 50.000, having matched that trough 
on Tuesday. The peso last stood at 49.980.
    Emerging Asian currencies have declined broadly since early
November, as the dollar and U.S. bond yields jumped on
expectations that President-elect Donald Trump's proposals for
infrastructure spending and tax cuts will boost economic growth
and inflation.
    Such rises in U.S. bond yields can reduce the attractiveness
of investing in emerging markets and trigger capital outflows
from such countries.  
    Asian currencies have come under renewed pressure after the
U.S. Federal Reserve raised interest rates last week for the
first time in a year, and also signalled three hikes in 2017.
    
    EMERGING MARKET OUTFLOWS
    Data from the Institute for International Finance (IIF)
showed non-resident investors have pulled a total of $23 billion
from emerging market portfolios since early October, including
$18 billion after the U.S. presidential election. 
    The IIF tracks Indonesia, India, Korea, Thailand, the
Philippines, South Africa, Brazil and Hungary.     
    Nearly half of the $18 billion in outflows from emerging
market assets since Nov. 9 were from Indian equities and bonds,
the IIF said, adding that South African and Thai securities also
saw particularly marked outflows.     
    Korean equities were the only asset tracked by the IIF to
have recorded inflows during this period, it added.
    
    THAILAND'S CENTRAL BANK
    Thailand's central bank is expected to leave benchmark
interest rate steady for a 13th straight meeting at its policy
review on Wednesday despite a slow economic recovery, according
to a Reuters poll. 
    All 18 economists surveyed forecast the central bank's
one-day repurchase rate would be kept at 1.50
percent. The policy decision is due before 0730 GMT. 
    
    CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR 
  Change on the day at   0542 GMT                      
  Currency                   Latest   Previous      Pct
                                bid        day     Move
  Japan yen                  117.59     117.88    +0.25
  Sing dlr                   1.4445     1.4461    +0.11
  Taiwan dlr                 32.007     32.005    -0.01
  Korean won                1193.10    1193.40    +0.03
  Baht                        36.00      36.01    +0.01
  Peso                       49.980     49.999    +0.04
  Rupiah                      13468      13425    -0.32
  Rupee                       67.91      68.04    +0.20
  Ringgit                    4.4770     4.4780    +0.02
  Yuan                       6.9500     6.9490    -0.01
                                                       
  Change so far in 2016                                
  Currency                   Latest   End prev      Pct
                                bid       year     Move
  Japan yen                  117.59     120.30    +2.30
  Sing dlr                   1.4445     1.4177    -1.86
  Taiwan dlr                 32.007     33.066    +3.31
  Korean won                1193.10    1172.50    -1.73
  Baht                        36.00      36.00    -0.01
  Peso                        49.98      47.06    -5.84
  Rupiah                      13468      13785    +2.35
  Rupee                       67.91      66.15    -2.58
  Ringgit                    4.4770     4.2935    -4.10
  Yuan                       6.9500     6.4936    -6.57
 
 (Reporting by Masayuki Kitano; Editing by Richard Borsuk)

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