March 13, 2018 / 5:30 AM / 3 months ago

EM ASIA FX-Asian currencies subdued on caution ahead of U.S. inflation data

    * Currencies trade in tight range
    * Indian rupee and Thai baht lead gains
    * S.Korean won, ringgit drop 

 (Adds text, updates prices)
    By Ambar Warrick
    March 13 (Reuters) - Most Asian currencies traded in a tight
range ahead of crucial inflation data from the United States due
later in the day. 
    Inflation has been a focal point for the Federal Reserve's 
monetary policy, and could speed up the tempo of interest rate
hikes this year.
    "Today's movement is relatively small but steady because
there is U.S. inflation data due this evening... if the consumer
price index (CPI) comes in the middle of or below market
expectations, you'll see a rise in risk appetite, but if the CPI
comes in higher, I think it will dent market sentiment," said
Gao Qi, Asia FX strategist at Scotiabank.
    Regional currencies saw only small movements.
    The South Korean won fell about 0.06 percent,
stepping away from two straight sessions of gains. The currency
had spiked over the past few days on the prospect of easing
tensions in the Korean Peninsula, a factor which weighed heavily
on the won in 2017.
    The Chinese yuan rose after a slightly stronger
midpoint fixing by the central bank. The yuan was one of the
best-performing regional currencies last year, but has been
wrangling with high corporate dollar demand as well as slowing
economic growth of late.
    The Malaysian ringgit fell slightly against the
dollar after news that Malaysia's industrial output declined in
January as manufacturing sector growth slowed.
    The Thai baht and the Indian rupee led
gains, rising more than 0.1 percent each.
    Indian inflation eased for a second straight month in
February but remained above the the Reserve Bank of India's 4
percent medium-term target.
    Thailand meanwhile saw a 20 percent increase in foreign
tourists in February from a year earlier, the government said on
Monday. A substantial section of the Thai economy depends on
tourism, which also earns large amounts of foreign exchange.

    The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against
the dollar on Tuesday.
 Change on the day as of 0457 GMT                       
 Currency                     Latest bid  Previous day  Pct Move
 Japan yen                    106.760     106.41        -0.33
 Sing dlr                     1.313       1.3125        -0.02
 Taiwan dlr                   29.257      29.280        +0.08
 Korean won                   1065.500    1065.2        -0.03
 Baht                         31.274      31.31         +0.12
 Peso                         52.040      52.04         +0.00
 Rupiah                       13747.000   13765         +0.13
 Rupee                        64.948      65.04         +0.13
 Ringgit                      3.905       3.903         -0.05
 Yuan                         6.327       6.3280        +0.01
 Change so far in 2018                                  
 Currency                     Latest bid  End 2017      Pct Move
 Japan yen                    106.760     112.67        +5.54
 Sing dlr                     1.313       1.3373        +1.87
 Taiwan dlr                   29.257      29.848        +2.02
 Korean won                   1065.500    1070.50       +0.47
 Baht                         31.274      32.58         +4.18
 Peso                         52.040      49.93         -4.05
 Rupiah                       13747.000   13565         -1.32
 Rupee                        64.948      63.87         -1.66
 Ringgit                      3.905       4.0440        +3.56
 Yuan                         6.327       6.5069        +2.84
 (Reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru
Editing by Eric Meijer)
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