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Asia forex: Most Asian currencies ease as U.S. tax vote stalls
December 1, 2017 / 6:39 AM / 12 days ago

Asia forex: Most Asian currencies ease as U.S. tax vote stalls

(Reuters) - Most Asian currencies were subdued on Friday as investors sought clarity after a vote to pass a U.S. tax reform bill, which could potentially strengthen the dollar, was delayed.

FILE PHOTO: Chinese 100 yuan banknotes are seen on a counter of a branch of a commercial bank in Beijing, China, March 30, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, was 0.1 percent lower at 0432 GMT.

“Across dollar-Asia, we don’t see much of an impetus at this point,” said Wei Liang Chang, FX strategist at Mizuho Bank.

“I think positioning is also somewhat restrained given that markets are waiting for developments on the tax reform vote.”

The U.S. Senate on Thursday delayed the vote on a Republican tax overhaul on Thursday as fiscal hawks sought to address a large expansion of the Federal budget deficit projected to result from the measure.

The tax bill, backed by President Donald Trump, is crucial to the Republicans’ prospects of keeping control of the Senate and the House of Representatives after the November 2018 elections.

“If the bill does pass, I think the very short-term effect is for U.S. Treasury yields to rise quite significantly, which should help boil the dollar higher against the yen and against Asian currencies to an extent,” Chang added.

There’s also been some volatility overnight, partly with end-of-the-month flows coming through, so that has led to some consolidation in currencies as well, he added.

Elsewhere, a private survey on Friday showed that China’s manufacturing activity grew at the weakest pace in five months in November as input costs remained high and tougher pollution measures weighed on business confidence.

But analysts say the survey will not have too much of an influence on the market given that the divergence to the official survey is rather small, and it doesn’t signify material softening in sentiment.

“This will probably be shrugged off by the market, unless we see a slowdown in industrial production numbers on exports, due next week,” Chang said.

The official Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) released on Thursday stood at 51.8 in November, compared with 51.6 in October.

The Taiwan dollar firmed about 0.2 percent against the dollar at its strongest position in over a week, while the Philippine peso slipped marginally.

Indonesian and Malaysian financial markets were closed for a public holiday, while India’s bond and currency markets were shut for a holiday.

CHINESE YUAN

China’s yuan eased against the U.S. dollar, pressured by a weaker official fixing and rising seasonal corporate demand for the greenback.

The yuan logged a second straight winning month in November, but is on its way to post a losing week.

S. KOREAN WON

The South Korean won firmed as much as 0.2 percent after posting a 1.1 percent drop in the previous session as the central bank raised concerns about the job market and remained dovish about rate hikes.

The currency is set to break two straight weeks of gains and end the week marginally weaker.

THAI BAHT

The Thai baht was 0.1 percent higher on Friday, and headed for its fifth straight week of gains.

Thailand’s annual consumer inflation rate increased in November, in line with forecasts, government data showed on Friday, but the pace was still below the central bank’s target.

“The BoT (Bank of Thailand) is probably not going to be in a position to be considering any change in monetary policy in the near future, so the CPI numbers are probably not as relevant as the trade balance,” said Wei Liang.

Exports jumped 13.4 percent in October from a year earlier, and imports were up 16.6 percent, resulting in a trade balance of $1.62 billion, data showed on Nov. 30.

Reporting by Chris Thomas in Bengaluru; Editing by Jacqueline Wong

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