January 24, 2019 / 5:27 AM / 4 months ago

EM ASIA FX-Global growth worries, weak domestic data keep Asian currencies in check

 (Adds text, updates prices)
    By Aby Jose Koilparambil
    Jan 24 (Reuters) - Most Asian currencies were hemmed into
tight trading ranges on Thursday as concerns over slowing global
growth and a slew of lukewarm domestic data from major regional
economies kept investors' appetite for riskier assets in check.
    Adding to the cautius mood were mixed signals on the
progress of trade talks between United States and China, making 
investors wary about the prospects for an amicable solution
before an early March deadline.
    The Indonesian rupiah, which has appreciated about
1.6 percent so far this year, was the only relatively better
performer on the day, advancing up to 0.3 percent to its best
level against the dollar in a week.
    The Malaysian ringgit, the Indian rupee,
the Taiwan dollar, the Thai baht and the
Chinese yuan were all confined to narrow ranges.
    The Philippine peso weakened as much as 0.3 percent
after data showed that the Southeast Asian country's economic
growth slipped to the lowest pace in three years in 2018, though
it edged up in the fourth quarter, giving the central bank
little reason to resume hiking interest rates.
    "The Philippines' 2018 growth is likely to moderate to a
three-year low as elevated inflation dampens domestic demand in
addition to fading favourable external tailwinds," Mizuho Bank
said in a note on Thursday.

    The ringgit dipped ahead of a Malaysian central bank policy 
decision later in the day.
    It is expected to keep its benchmark overnight interest rate
 unchanged at 3.25 percent, a Reuters poll showed.

    The central bank's last move was a year ago, when it raised
the rate by 25 basis points.
    Meanwhile, government data on Thursday showed Malaysia's
consumer price index rose 0.2 percent in December
from a year earlier, matching the pace in November.
    December's annual inflation rate was below the 0.4 percent
forecast by a Reuters poll. 
    South Korea's currency dipped in response to the Bank of
Korea's dovish tone on the economy after it left benchmark
interest rates steady, reinforcing market bets that rates will
remain at the current level for some time amid worsening trade
    The Bank of Korea ended its first policy rate meeting of the
year with the base rate unchanged at 1.75 percent.
    A Reuters poll of 11 economists had expected the central
bank to keep policy unchanged after it raised rates in November
for the first time in a year. 
    Investors will focus on the central bank's expected
revisions to its growth forecasts later in the day, as well as
Governor Lee Ju-yeol's comments on the economy for clues on
future policies.
    The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against
the dollar at 0508 GMT.
 Currency               Latest bid  Previous day  Pct Move
 Japan yen              109.540     109.59        +0.05
 Sing dlr               1.359       1.3587        -0.02
 Taiwan dlr             30.880      30.892        +0.04
 Korean won             1128.900    1127.3        -0.14
 Baht                   31.720      31.73         +0.03
 Peso                   52.750      52.64         -0.21
 Rupiah                 14150.000   14175         +0.18
 Rupee                  71.270      71.34         +0.09
 Ringgit                4.136       4.135         -0.02
 Yuan                   6.786       6.7910        +0.07
 Change so far in 2019                            
 Currency               Latest bid  End 2018      Pct Move
 Japan yen              109.540     109.56        +0.02
 Sing dlr               1.359       1.3627        +0.27
 Taiwan dlr             30.880      30.733        -0.48
 Korean won             1128.900    1115.70       -1.17
 Baht                   31.720      32.55         +2.62
 Peso                   52.750      52.47         -0.53
 Rupiah                 14150.000   14375         +1.59
 Rupee                  71.270      69.77         -2.10
 Ringgit                4.136       4.1300        -0.15
 Yuan                   6.786       6.8730        +1.28
 (Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by
Kim Coghill)
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