May 18, 2017 / 5:28 AM / 3 months ago

EM ASIA FX-Asian currencies fall as uncertainty mounts over Trump's future

    * Korean won biggest loser, down as much as 0.8 pct
    * Singapore dlr slightly down after hitting 6-mth high
    * Chinese yuan down after 4 straight sessions of gains

 (Adds text, updates prices)
    By Shashwat Pradhan
    May 18 (Reuters) - Most Asian currencies fell on Thursday as
uncertainty mounted over U.S. President Donald Trump's future
following reports that he tried to interfere with a federal
investigation.
    Pressure on the White House has intensified after Trump
fired FBI Director James Comey, who had been leading a federal
probe into possible collusion between Trump's 2016 campaign team
and Russia.
    Later, Washington was rocked by reports that Trump had asked
Comey to end the FBI investigation into ties between Trump's
first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and Russia, a
serious allegation that could lead to Trump's impeachment if
verified. 
    The Justice Department has named former FBI chief Robert
Mueller as special counsel to investigate the alleged Russian
interference.
    "Impeaching Donald Trump was a pipe dream for the Democrats
but extremely unlikely to most other observers until a few days
ago. Whether it would succeed is another story," said Greg
McKenna, chief market strategist at CFD and FX provider
AxiTrader.
    "As it drags on, it hurts sentiment and threatens the
administration's agenda, especially around tax and
infrastructure."
    The Korean won was the biggest loser among Asian
currencies, sliding as much as 0.8 percent in its biggest
intra-day percentage fall in nearly five weeks.
    South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Wednesday there
was a "high possibility" of conflict with North Korea, which is
pressing ahead with nuclear and missile programmes it says are
needed to counter U.S. aggression.
    The Singapore dollar hit a six-month high before
reversing course to trade slightly down.
    The yen weakened 0.3 percent, shrugging off data 
that showed Japan's economy grew in the first quarter at its
fastest pace in a year to mark the longest period of expansion
in a decade.
    The Chinese yuan was slightly down after four
sessions of gains.
    Net foreign exchange sales by China's commercial banks in
April rose to their highest in three months, but capital
outflows remained under control due to tighter regulatory
scrutiny.
    China has tightened rules on moving capital outside the
country in recent months as it seeks to support the yuan.
    Meanwhile, the Thai baht gained 0.2 percent against
the dollar.
    Thailand's high household debt level fell last year and
should continue doing so as the economy is recovering, the
central bank governor said on Wednesday.
    
    PHILIPPINE PESO
    
    The Philippine peso slipped 0.2 percent against
the dollar after data showed that the economy grew at its
slowest pace in one-and-a-half years.
    The economy expanded 6.4 percent in the first quarter from a
year ago, below market expectations, data from the statistics
agency's website showed.
    Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the economy to
expand at an annual 6.8 percent, compared with 6.6 percent in
the last three months of 2016.
    
    INDONESIAN RUPIAH
    
    The Indonesian rupiah fell 0.1 percent ahead of the 
central bank's decision on a key rate later in the day.
    Bank Indonesia (BI) is expected to hold the 7-day reverse
repurchase rate at 4.75 percent, all but one of 20
analysts in a Reuters poll predicted. The other analyst forecast
a 25 basis point cut.
    In the first quarter, Southeast Asia's largest economy grew
5.01 percent from a year earlier, broadly in line with analyst
forecasts, though some described the growth rate as
disappointing.
    "Unless BI surprises, we expect the impact of BI policy
decision on the Indonesian rupiah to be limited," Maybank said
in a note.
    
    The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against
the dollar at 0449 GMT.
    
    CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR
   
  Currency                Latest bid  Previous day  Pct Move
  Japan yen              111.100             110.8     -0.27
  Sing dlr               1.391              1.3898     -0.07
  Taiwan dlr             30.216             30.140     -0.25
  Korean won             1126.600           1118.3     -0.74
  Baht                   34.470              34.52     +0.15
  Peso                   49.860              49.76     -0.20
  Rupiah                 13340.000           13322     -0.13
  Rupee                  64.370              64.15     -0.34
  Ringgit                4.325               4.321     -0.09
  Yuan                   6.889              6.8847     -0.07
                                                            
  Change so far                                             
  Currency               Latest bid   End 2016      Pct Move
  Japan yen              111.100            117.07     +5.37
  Sing dlr               1.391              1.4490     +4.18
  Taiwan dlr             30.216             32.279     +6.83
  Korean won             1126.600          1207.70     +7.20
  Baht                   34.470              35.80     +3.86
  Peso                   49.860              49.72     -0.28
  Rupiah                 13340.000           13470     +0.97
  Rupee                  64.370              67.92     +5.51
  Ringgit                4.325              4.4845     +3.69
  Yuan                   6.889              6.9467     +0.83
 

 (Reporting by Shashwat Pradhan in Bengaluru; Editing by
Subhranshu Sahu)
  
 
 

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