March 13, 2019 / 5:49 AM / in 3 months

EM ASIA FX-Asian currencies skittish on trade deal caution; won top loser

    * South Korean won top decliner in the region
    * Higher oil prices weaken rupiah
    * Peso flat after early gains 

 (Adds text, updates prices)
    By Shriya Ramakrishnan
    March 13 (Reuters) - Most emerging Asian currencies traded
flat to lower on Wednesday, with the South Korean won weakening
the most as investors looked for signs of a breakthrough in
U.S.-China trade negotiations. 
     U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on Tuesday
he hopes the United States and China are in the final weeks of
talks to secure a deal to ease a trade war between the world's
largest economies, but cautioned that major issues remained.

    Investors will also keep a close watch on key industrial
output data from China for the first two months of the year due
on Thursday. 
    Last week, China reported dismal trade data with February
exports plunging 20.7 percent from a year earlier, pointing to
further weakness in domestic demand and concerns about a
slowdown in global growth. 
    Leading declines in the region, the trade-sensitive South
Korean won slipped as much as 0.3 percent against the
greenback, in tandem with the local equity benchmark index.
    The KOSPI index fell more than 1 percent earlier on
    South Korea's export-reliant economy stands to gain highly
from any positive development in the U.S.-China trade war front,
as it is largely affected by demand from both countries.
    The Malaysian ringgit weakened 0.2 percent, while the
Singapore dollar was marginally lower.
    Meanwhile, higher global crude oil prices put the region's
net importers under pressure, with the Indonesian rupiah
dropping as much as 0.2 percent, while the Indian rupee
was largely flat.
    India's annual consumer prices rose at a faster pace than
anticipated, but remained below the central bank's target for a
seventh straight month, lending weight to expectations that the
central bank could once again cut the key interest rate in
    The peso traded flat after rising as much as 0.7
percent earlier.
    Gao Qi, a forex strategist at Scotiabank, attributed the
day's early gains to a correction, as the USD-PHP pair had been
    The local unit declined 0.8 percent last week, after the
newly-appointed central bank chief Benjamin Diokno said there
was room to ease monetary policy given cooling inflation. 
    Diokno on Tuesday raised the possibility of several cuts
this year in the amount of cash that banks must hold as
reserves, and that the current reserve requirement ratio of 18
percent was still too high despite two cuts last year.

    The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against
the dollar at 0511 GMT.
 Currency               Latest bid  Previous day  Pct Move
 Japan yen              111.290     111.35        +0.05
 Sing dlr               1.356       1.3557        -0.05
 Taiwan dlr             30.905      30.905        +0.00
 Korean won             1132.500    1129.8        -0.24
 Baht                   31.650      31.63         -0.06
 Peso                   52.900      52.96         +0.11
 Rupiah                 14275.000   14260         -0.11
 Rupee                  69.710      69.70         -0.01
 Ringgit                4.090       4.082         -0.20
 Yuan                   6.711       6.7098        -0.02
 Change so far in 2019                            
 Currency               Latest bid  End 2018      Pct Move
 Japan yen              111.290     109.56        -1.55
 Sing dlr               1.356       1.3627        +0.46
 Taiwan dlr             30.905      30.733        -0.56
 Korean won             1132.500    1115.70       -1.48
 Baht                   31.650      32.55         +2.84
 Peso                   52.900      52.47         -0.81
 Rupiah                 14275.000   14375         +0.70
 Rupee                  69.710      69.77         +0.09
 Ringgit                4.090       4.1300        +0.98
 Yuan                   6.711       6.8730        +2.41
 (Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru
Editing by Jacqueline Wong)
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