March 21, 2018 / 6:09 AM / 4 months ago

EM ASIA FX-Asian currencies subdued against stronger dollar; yuan edges up

    * Philippine peso, Chinese yuan among few gainers
    * Sentiment remains subdued ahead of Fed meet

 (Adds details, updates prices)
    By Ambar Warrick
    March 21 (Reuters) - Asian currencies moved in a tight range
against a firmer dollar on Wednesday ahead of a slew of economic
indicators, the foremost being the outcome of a U.S. Federal
Open Market Committee meeting later in the day.
    The greenback retained gains against a basket of
currencies as traders look to whether the Fed will indicate
faster monetary tightening this year, while the first rate
increase of 2018 is almost unanimously expected.
    A hawkish fed means greater upside potential for the dollar,
which would drive capital flows away from emerging currencies.
    "The market is cautious ahead the FOMC meeting today
evening. However we did see some divergence in regional
currencies today, as some rose and some fell," said Qi Gao, FX
strategist at Scotiabank. 
    "Overnight, U.S. stocks did slightly better than yesterday,
so sentiment might be a bit better today," Gao added. 
    The Malaysian ringgit and the South Korean won
 led declines in Asia. 
    The Hong Kong dollar hit a 33-year low, falling
towards the lower end of the central bank's trading band.
However, the Chinese yuan inched up.
    In Malaysia, inflation for February came in below forecasts.
Easing inflationary pressures have dissuaded the need for
monetary tightening in the near term, as Malaysia's economy has
enjoyed a spell of strength in recent times.
    Investors are now waiting for central bank meetings in
Taiwan, Indonesia, and the Philippines on Thursday for further
trading cues.
    Taiwan's central bank is expected to leave its policy rate
steady for the seventh straight quarter, a Reuters poll showed.
The Taiwan dollar was largely flat to the dollar ahead
of the meeting.
    The Philippine central bank is also likely to leave its
benchmark rate steady on optimism the country's annual inflation
would ease back to a target range next year.
    The Philippine peso, which has taken a large dive
lately over lagging fundamentals in the country, rose slightly
against the dollar.
    The Indonesian rupiah edged down versus the dollar.
The country's central bank is expected to keep its benchmark
rate unchanged, a Reuters poll showed.
    "I think the Bank Indonesia always said it will guide the
rupiah in line with the nation's fundamentals, so I think they
will maintain their stance, in line with market expectations,"
Gao from Scotiabank added.
    The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against
the dollar on Wednesday.
 CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR                             
 Change on the day at   0525 GMT                       
 Currency                    Latest bid  Previous day  Pct Move
 Japan yen                   106.450     106.53        +0.08
 Sing dlr                    1.318       1.3187        +0.08
 Taiwan dlr                  29.184      29.175        -0.03
 Korean won                  1071.600    1068.6        -0.28
 Baht                        31.210      31.17         -0.13
 Peso                        52.070      52.08         +0.02
 Rupiah                      13760.000   13745         -0.11
 Rupee                       65.215      65.19         -0.04
 Ringgit                     3.923       3.915         -0.20
 Yuan                        6.332       6.3352        +0.05
 Change so far in 2018                                 
 Currency                    Latest bid  End 2017      Pct Move
 Japan yen                   106.450     112.67        +5.84
 Sing dlr                    1.318       1.3373        +1.50
 Taiwan dlr                  29.184      29.848        +2.28
 Korean won                  1071.600    1070.50       -0.10
 Baht                        31.210      32.58         +4.39
 Peso                        52.070      49.93         -4.11
 Rupiah                      13760.000   13565         -1.42
 Rupee                       65.215      63.87         -2.06
 Ringgit                     3.923       4.0440        +3.08
 Yuan                        6.332       6.5069        +2.76
 (Reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Editing by Himani
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