February 23, 2017 / 6:46 AM / 9 months ago

EM ASIA FX-Asian currencies firmer as dollar drifts after Fed minutes

    * Most emerging Asian currencies edge higher vs dollar
    * Fed minutes seen in line with Fed officials' comments
    * Market awaits details on Trump's tax policies

 (Adds text, updates prices)
    SINGAPORE, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Emerging Asian currencies
edged higher on Thursday after the  minutes of the U.S. Federal
Reserve's latest policy meeting did little to bolster
expectations that the Fed would raise interest rates next month.
    The South Korean won rose 0.4 percent to 1,138
per dollar, edging back in the direction of a three-month high
of 1,133 set last week.
    Earlier, South Korea's central bank kept interest rates
unchanged at a record low 1.25 percent for an eighth straight
month, as expected.
    Elsewhere, the Indian rupee edged up 0.2 percent,
while several other currencies such as the Malaysian ringgit
 gained 0.1 percent.     
    The Fed minutes seemed broadly in line with recent comments
from Fed officials and wasn't enough to increase expectations
for a rate hike in March, said Kota Hirayama, senior economist
for SMBC Nikko Securities in Tokyo.
    The market is waiting for details on U.S. President Donald
Trump's plans for tax reform, which might even be unveiled
before his address to a joint session of Congress on Feb. 28,
Hirayama said.
    "It will be hard for the market to move until we get a sense
of the size of the tax cuts, how much the fiscal deficit could
widen, and how high U.S. yields might rise," he added.
    "If it becomes likely that a large-scale tax cut will be
implemented quickly, then it's possible that the Fed might move
next month... We still think June is more likely than March
though," Hirayama said, referring to the possible timing of the
Fed's next rate rise.
    Many Fed policymakers said it may be appropriate to raise
interest rates again "fairly soon" should jobs and inflation
data turn out in line with expectations, according to the
minutes of the Fed's last policy meeting released on Wednesday.

    The Singapore dollar eased 0.2 percent, showing
limited reaction to news Singapore's inflation accelerated to a
two-year high in January.
    The momentum in consumer prices, combined with
stronger-than-expected economic growth at the end of 2016, and
the government's generous budget for the coming year, will take
near-term monetary policy easing off the table, analysts said.

  Change on the day at   0620 GMT                     
  Currency                Latest bid   Previous    Pct
                                            day   Move
  Japan yen                   113.26     113.32  +0.05
  Sing dlr                    1.4149     1.4126  -0.16
  Taiwan dlr                  30.760     30.779  +0.06
  Korean won                 1138.00    1142.60  +0.40
  Baht                         34.99      35.02  +0.07
  Peso                        50.200     50.230  +0.06
  Rupiah                       13350      13362  +0.09
  Rupee                        66.83      66.96  +0.20
  Ringgit                     4.4480     4.4510  +0.07
  Yuan                        6.8786     6.8781  -0.01
  Change so far                                       
 in 2017                                         
  Currency                Latest bid   End prev    Pct
                                           year   Move
  Japan yen                   113.26     117.07  +3.36
  Sing dlr                    1.4149     1.4490  +2.41
  Taiwan dlr                  30.760     32.279  +4.94
  Korean won                 1138.00    1207.70  +6.12
  Baht                         34.99      35.80  +2.33
  Peso                         50.20      49.72  -0.96
  Rupiah                       13350      13470  +0.90
  Rupee                        66.83      67.92  +1.64
  Ringgit                     4.4480     4.4845  +0.82
  Yuan                        6.8786     6.9467  +0.99

 (Reporting by Masayuki Kitano)

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