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EM ASIA FX-Ringgit at 14-month low as Fed's confidence dents Asia FX
December 16, 2016 / 7:08 AM / a year ago

EM ASIA FX-Ringgit at 14-month low as Fed's confidence dents Asia FX

* Ringgit at lowest since late Sept 2015; nears lowest since
1998
    * Onshore Chinese yuan sets 8-1/2 year low
    * Asia FX on track for weekly losses after Fed's rate signal
    * U.S. bond yield rise weighs on emerging Asian currencies

 (Adds text, updates prices)
    By Masayuki Kitano
    SINGAPORE, Dec 16 (Reuters) - The Malaysian ringgit slumped
to a 14-1/2 month low on Friday and many of its counterparts in
Asia were on the back foot after the U.S. Federal Reserve
surprised markets this week by signalling a faster pace of rate
rises next year.
    The ringgit fell to 4.4755 per dollar, its lowest
level since late September 2015, when it touched a trough of
4.4770. 
    A drop past that nadir would take the Malaysian currency to
its lowest level since January 1998, at the height of the Asian
financial crisis.
    The onshore Chinese yuan briefly hit a low of
6.9493 per dollar earlier on Friday, its weakest level since May
2008, but has since steadied as liquidity injections from
authorities shored up confidence. Some traders also liquidated
long-dollar positions ahead of the weekend, helping to prop up
the yuan. 
    The Singapore dollar held steady, but remained
within sight of a seven-year low of 1.4481 per U.S. dollar set
on Thursday.
    Most Asian currencies were on track for weekly losses, after
the Fed raised interest rates for the first time in a year on
Wednesday and signalled three hikes in 2017, up from around two
flagged at its September meeting. 
    The Fed's rate signal has spurred a renewed rise in U.S.
bond yields, boosting the dollar and inflaming concerns about
the risk of capital outflows from emerging markets.
    While there have been signs of outflows from Asian equities
markets after the Fed's policy meeting, the amounts don't seem
to be huge, said Teppei Ino, analyst for Bank of
Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ in Singapore.
    "It's not as if there has been any drastic worsening in the
surrounding environment (for Asian currencies) over the past few
days," Ino said.
    While the dollar might rise further against emerging Asian
currencies in the next few weeks, one uncertainty further ahead
is whether the U.S. economy can remain resilient if the dollar
and bond yields continue to rise, Ino added. 

    OFFSHORE YUAN
    Hong Kong's overnight yuan borrowing rate edged
down to 10.0 percent on Friday from a nearly two-week high of
11.76367 percent a day earlier. That was still well
above levels around 2.9 percent at the end of November.
    The interbank borrowing rate in the offshore yuan market has
been elevated in the past few weeks, stirring speculation that
the authorities are keeping funding conditions tight in order to
discourage speculative positions against the yuan.
    "I expect traders to take note of current funding costs,"
said Stephen Innes, senior trader for FX broker OANDA in
Singapore, adding that they might pare back their short
positions in the offshore Chinese yuan as a result.
    The offshore yuan was steady on the day at 6.9347 
per dollar, having pulled up from a near 3-week low of 6.9500
set on Thursday.  
    
    SINGAPORE DOLLAR
    Analysts say the Singapore dollar could drop further against
its U.S. counterpart, since its nominal effective exchange rate
(S$NEER) is still seen as having more room to fall within the
central bank's policy band.
    In addition, some analysts say the central bank could ease
its exchange-rate based policy next year.
    "Lacklustre external demand and U.S. President-elect Donald
Trump's protectionist trade policy will weigh on Singapore's
exports and economic growth," Qi Gao, FX strategist for
Scotiabank, said in a research note.
    The central bank is likely to ease its exchange-rated based
policy by re-centering the policy band lower at its next policy
decision due in April, he added.
    Singapore's exports in November unexpectedly jumped, thanks
to a sharp rise in shipments of pharmaceuticals as well as
overall increases in sales to the European Union and China, but
economists say it's too early to call a turn for the stressed
trade sector. 

    CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR  
  Change on the day at   0619 GMT                     
  Currency              Latest bid   Previous      Pct
                                          day     Move
  Japan yen                 118.09     118.17    +0.07
  Sing dlr                  1.4411     1.4424    +0.09
  Taiwan dlr                31.893     31.923    +0.09
  Korean won               1184.10    1178.50    -0.47
  Baht                       35.76      35.77    +0.04
  Peso                      49.900     49.960    +0.12
  Rupiah                     13408      13395    -0.10
  Rupee                      67.82      67.84    +0.03
  Ringgit                   4.4750     4.4620    -0.29
  Yuan                      6.9470     6.9478    +0.01
                                                      
  Change so                                           
 far in 2016                                   
  Currency              Latest bid   End prev      Pct
                                         year     Move
  Japan yen                 118.09     120.30    +1.87
  Sing dlr                  1.4411     1.4177    -1.62
  Taiwan dlr                31.893     33.066    +3.68
  Korean won               1184.10    1172.50    -0.98
  Baht                       35.76      36.00    +0.68
  Peso                       49.90      47.06    -5.69
  Rupiah                     13408      13785    +2.81
  Rupee                      67.82      66.15    -2.46
  Ringgit                   4.4750     4.2935    -4.06
  Yuan                      6.9470     6.4936    -6.53
    

 (Reporting by Masayuki Kitano in SINGAPORE; Editing by Shri
Navaratnam)

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