December 10, 2012 / 8:13 AM / 5 years ago

EM ASIA FX-Won hits 15-month high, but rupiah slides

(Adds text, updates prices)
    * Upbeat data on U.S. jobs and China supports Asia FX
    * Asia currencies resilient despite weak China trade data
    * Won hits 15-month high, intervention suspected
    * Rupiah slides, hits 3-year low on 1-month NDFs

    By Masayuki Kitano
    SINGAPORE, Dec 10 (Reuters) - The South Korean won hit a
15-month high on Monday and most Asian currencies held steady or
edged higher after U.S. and Chinese data stirred some optimism
about the outlook for the global economy.
    Traders said suspected intervention by the local authorities
helped to curb the rise in the won, which hit a high of 1,078.0
to the dollar, the South Korean currency's strongest
level since September 2011.
    The won rose after U.S. jobs data on Friday showed a
bigger-than-expected increase in payrolls in November.
    Data on Sunday showing growth in China's factory output and
retail sales jumped to eight-month highs in November also lent
support to Asian currencies. The regional currencies were
resilient even after another series of data on Monday showed
that Chinese exports were much weaker than expected last month.
 
    "To be honest it's a little surprising that we haven't seen
more of a reaction," said Rob Ryan, strategist for RBS in
Singapore, referring to China's trade data.
    "The recent data and the tone of markets...suggests some
optimism about the situation in China, and this would seem to
undermine some of the optimism," he added.
    Although most emerging Asian currencies held steady or
pushed higher, a few bucked the trend, including the Indonesian
rupiah.
    Market players said the rupiah came under pressure due to
selling in non-deliverable forwards or NDFs, in a sign that the
selling may have been led by offshore players.
    In one-month NDFs, the rupiah fell to 9,810 versus the
dollar, its lowest level since September 2009,
according to Reuters data.
    The rupiah has slid roughly 1.5 percent in one-month NDFs
over the past two trading sessions, the biggest two-day slide
since late May of this year.
    "I suspect the main driver has been the very poor trade
figures from last week," said Jonathan Cavenagh, foreign
exchange strategist for Westpac in Singapore.
    "Indonesia has seen its trade deficit swing from strong
surplus into deficit and that has been a concern for the market,
particularly compared with other economies in the region, where
the trade balance has been quite resilient," he added.
    Data last week showed that Indonesia had logged a record
$1.54 billion trade deficit in October as exports fell more than
expected and imports surged.
    
    SOUTH KOREAN WON
    One Asian currency that has been supported by its country's
trade surplus is the South Korean won, which has also stayed
firm due to inflows into South Korean debt.
    "We're expecting the won to further appreciate going
forward," said Perry Kojodjojo, FX strategist for HSBC in Hong
Kong, adding that HSBC's forecast is for the won to rise to
1,050 at the end of next year.
    "The current account surplus remains quite sizeable, bond
inflows into Korea are still strong. So all these continue to
suggest that the won should continue to appreciate," he added.
    
    INDONESIAN RUPIAH
    One factor that has helped to lessen the rupiah's drop this
year is a rise in overseas direct investment into Indonesia,
said Satoshi Okagawa, senior global markets analyst for Sumitomo
Mitsui Banking Corporation in Singapore.
    Although the direct investment flows have helped to offset
the impact of Indonesia's trade deficit to some extent, it is
unclear whether such inflows will persist, he said.
    "The fundamental supply and demand balance (of the rupiah)
is poor," Okagawa said, adding that the Indonesian currency may
drop to around 10,000 in 2013. 
    In the third quarter, Indonesia had attracted a record $5.9
billion in foreign direct investment. 

  CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR
  * Thailand's financial markets are closed on Monday for a
public holiday.  
                                                                   
  Change on the day at   0541 GMT                                  
  Currency    Latest bid   Previous day    Pct Move
  Japan yen        82.47          82.46       -0.01
  Sing dlr        1.2218         1.2206       -0.10
  Taiwan dlr      29.081         29.125       +0.15
  Korean won     1079.40        1081.70       +0.21
  Baht             30.66          30.68       +0.05
  Peso             40.94          40.95       +0.02
  Rupiah         9645.00        9615.00       -0.31
  Rupee            54.31          54.47       +0.31
  Ringgit         3.0565         3.0555       -0.03
  Yuan            6.2293         6.2301       +0.01
                                                                   
  Change so far in 2012                                            
  Currency    Latest bid  End prev year    Pct Move
  Japan yen        82.47          76.92       -6.73
  Sing dlr        1.2218         1.2969       +6.15
  Taiwan dlr      29.081         30.290       +4.16
  Korean won     1079.40        1151.80       +6.71
  Baht             30.66          31.55       +2.90
  Peso             40.94          43.84       +7.10
  Rupiah         9645.00        9060.00       -6.07
  Rupee            54.31          53.08       -2.26
  Ringgit         3.0565         3.1685       +3.66
  Yuan            6.2293         6.2940       +1.04
                                                                   
 ------------------------------------------------
 
 (Additional reporting by Se Young Lee in SEOUL; Editing by
Jacqueline Wong)

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