June 12, 2019 / 5:25 AM / 4 months ago

EM ASIA FX-Thai baht, Indian rupee firm; most trade sideways

    * Thai baht leads intraday gains
    * Rupee stronger ahead of India's inflation data

 (Adds text, updates prices)
    By Ambar Warrick
    June 12 (Reuters) - Asian currencies traded narrowly on
Wednesday, with the Thai baht and Indian rupee firming as
investors looked to data that could raise prospects of an early
cut in U.S. interest rates.  
    Economic indicators in the United States have been a point
of focus for emerging markets, given that sustained weakness in
the economy could prompt immediate action from the Federal
Reserve and drive money to regional currencies.
    Sino-U.S. trade tensions, meanwhile, kept markets cautious
as U.S. President Donald Trump hardened his stance on trade
talks with China.
    Trump said on Tuesday he was holding up a trade deal with
China and had no interest in moving ahead unless Beijing agrees
again to four or five "major points", be he did not specify.

    "Expect investors to remain antsy with U.S. Commerce
Secretary expecting no major breakthrough deals, while official
rhetoric from China continues to harden," OCBC's Emmanuel Ng
said in a note.
    The Thai baht led gains for the day, rising about
0.15% to the dollar. The currency has outperformed its peers
this year, gaining about 4.2% so far.
    While Thailand's strong economic fundamentals, such as a
robust current account surplus, have bolstered the baht,
headwinds from global trade are expected to weigh. This has
already become apparent with a steady decline in its surplus
this year. 
    The Indian rupee rose about 0.06% to the dollar.
The currency has benefited from a recent drop in oil prices, as
India imports a vast majority of its crude requirements. 
    Retail inflation in the country is expected to have
accelerated in May, according to a Reuters poll, but will likely
remain below the Reserve Bank of India's target, providing it
with more room to ease policy after shifting to an accommodative
stance last week. The official reading is expected later in the
    Indian industrial output data for April is also due later in
the day.
    Elsewhere, the Chinese yuan edged about 0.07%
lower against the dollar. It gained on Tuesday following the
central bank's plans to issue bills in Hong Kong later in June
that analysts believed were aimed at preventing the currency
from declining further.
    The Philippine peso saw limited trade with markets
closed for a public holiday.

    The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against
the dollar on Wednesday.
 Change on the day at   0421 GMT                  
 Currency               Latest bid  Previous day  Pct Move
 Japan yen              108.450     108.5         +0.05
 Sing dlr               1.364       1.3635        -0.06
 Taiwan dlr             31.415      31.436        +0.07
 Korean won             1181.600    1180.4        -0.10
 Baht                   31.243      31.29         +0.15
 Rupiah                 14235.000   14235         +0.00
 Rupee                  69.400      69.44         +0.06
 Ringgit                4.162       4.161         -0.02
 Yuan                   6.916       6.9112        -0.07
 Change so far in 2019                            
 Currency               Latest bid  End 2018      Pct Move
 Japan yen              108.450     109.56        +1.02
 Sing dlr               1.364       1.3627        -0.12
 Taiwan dlr             31.415      30.733        -2.17
 Korean won             1181.600    1115.70       -5.58
 Baht                   31.243      32.55         +4.19
 Rupiah                 14235.000   14375         +0.98
 Rupee                  69.400      69.77         +0.53
 Ringgit                4.162       4.1300        -0.77
 Yuan                   6.916       6.8730        -0.62

 (Reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru
Editing by Jacqueline Wong)
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