April 18, 2018 / 6:03 AM / in 7 months

EM ASIA FX-Asian currencies tread water, yuan down after surprise RRR cut

    * Indian rupee hits over 6-month low 
    * Investors trade cautiously in EM Asia FX
    * China's surprise RRR cut pressures yuan 

 (Adds text, updates prices)
    By Christina Martin
    April 18 (Reuters) - Most emerging Asian currencies were
kept in check on Wednesday, as the dollar gained on firm U.S.
economic data and as U.S.-China trade risks and tensions in the
Middle East appeared to take a backseat for now.
    China's yuan pulled back after the People's Bank of China
(PBOC) surprised markets late on Tuesday by cutting reserve
requirements, although the move fell short of a broad easing in
monetary conditions.
    The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies
 was a shade higher at 89.538 after gaining 0.1 percent
overnight. 
    The index had stooped to 89.229, its lowest since March 27
before retreating on stronger-than-expected March U.S. housing
starts and steady industrial production figures.
    The dollar took a small knock earlier in the week after
Trump criticised the currency policies of China and Russia,
before finding relief after Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin
clarified Trump's comments on Tuesday. 
    "It's very, very quiet today. Traders remain very cautious
adding regional risk due to the overhang from the trade war,"
said Stephen Innes, head of trading APAC at Oanda.
    The Indian rupee fell as much as 0.2 percent to its
lowest level since September.
    The Philippine peso also lost about 0.2 percent and
was on track to mark its third consecutive session of declines.
    The Indonesian rupiah, the Malaysian ringgit,
and China's yuan were all little changed.
    The Korean won tacked on 0.1 percent to a
one-week high, while the Singapore dollar, the Taiwan
dollar and the Thai baht also crept up
slightly. 
    "The won is up on the peace treaty and the high level
political discussions this has triggered. This will ultimately
be good for regional FX, but in the meantime traders remain
extremely cautious adding regional rush dye to the overhang from
trade wars," said Innes. 
    South Korea said on Wednesday it is considering how to
change a decades-old armistice with North Korea into a peace
agreement, as U.S. officials confirmed an unprecedented
top-level meeting with the North Korean leader.
    
    CHINA'S YUAN
    The Chinese yuan slipped against the U.S. dollar
on Wednesday, after the central bank surprised markets by
cutting the amount of reserves banks must keep on reserve,
raising some concerns over the health of the economy.

    The move late Tuesday by the People's Bank of China came
hours after data showed the world's second-biggest grew at a
slightly faster-than-expected pace of 6.8 percent in the first
quarter, buoyed by strong consumer demand and robust property
investment.
     Traders said the sudden RRR cut weighed on the yuan in
morning trade as the amount was larger than expected and had
come earlier than most had predicted.
    Oanda's Innes also suspects the market is of the view that
China's GDP data "could be a high point of the year", noting
risks from the tariff row with the United States and Beijing's
extended deleveraging campaign.
    "In other words Q2 GDP could be worse than expected."
    Indeed, analysts are still predicting China's economic
growth will slow to 6.5 percent this year, with the ongoing
regulatory crackdown and U.S. trade dispute seen as key risks, a
Reuters poll showed. 
    
    The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against
the dollar at 0530 GMT.
    CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR
 Change on the day at 0530 GMT                    
 Currency               Latest bid  Previous day  Pct Move
 Japan yen              107.350     106.99        -0.34
 Sing dlr               1.311       1.3113        +0.05
 Taiwan dlr             29.354      29.362        +0.03
 Korean won             1067.400    1067          -0.04
 Baht                   31.220      31.23         +0.03
 Peso                   52.099      52.05         -0.09
 Rupiah                 13767.000   13765         -0.01
 Rupee                  65.665      65.64         -0.03
 Ringgit                3.890       3.8885        -0.04
 Yuan                   6.287       6.2855        -0.03
                                                  
 Change so far in 2018                            
 Currency               Latest bid  End 2017      Pct Move
 Japan yen              107.350     112.67        +4.96
 Sing dlr               1.311       1.3373        +2.04
 Taiwan dlr             29.354      29.848        +1.68
 Korean won             1067.400    1070.50       +0.29
 Baht                   31.220      32.58         +4.36
 Peso                   52.099      49.93         -4.16
 Rupiah                 13767.000   13565         -1.47
 Rupee                  65.665      63.87         -2.73
 Ringgit                3.890       4.0440        +3.96
 Yuan                   6.287       6.5069        +3.49
 

 (Reporting By Christina Martin in Bengaluru; Additional
reporting by Nicole Pinto)
  
 
 
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