January 2, 2019 / 5:59 AM / in 15 days

EM ASIA FX-Most Asian currencies decline as factory activity fizzles

    * China's Dec factory data contracts for first time in 19
mths
    * Indonesian rupiah weakens 0.7 pct
    * Thai baht strengthens 0.7 pct

 (Adds text, updates prices)
    By Niyati Shetty
    Jan 2 (Reuters) - Most Asian currencies fell on Wednesday,
shrugging off broad U.S. dollar weakness as gloomy factory
surveys added to worries about cooling regional and global
growth.
    A private survey showed manufacturing in China, the world's
second-largest economy, contracted for the first time in 19
months in December as domestic and export orders continue to
weaken.
    Factory activity also shrank in South Korea, Taiwan and
Malaysia, while Singapore reported much slower fourth-quarter
economic growth than expected.
    China's economy is expected to slow further in coming
quarters, adding to pressure on other Asian exporters, Mizuho
bank said in a note.
    Leading declines in the region, the Indonesia rupiah
dropped 0.7 percent to 14,475.00 per dollar. The currency
weakened about 6 percent against the greenback in 2018.
    The Korean won faltered 0.3 percent, while the
Taiwan dollar also softened after weak manufacturing
reports.
    The Indian rupee and the Malaysian ringgit
also retreated after softer manufacturing
readings.
    Bucking the trend, the Thai baht strengthened 0.7
percent to 32.40 per dollar. 
    Thailand's monetary policy committee expects any future
policy tightening would be gradual, minutes from its last policy
meeting showed on Wednesday.
    The Bank of Thailand raised rates by 25 basis points in
December, its first rate hike since 2011, to curb risks to
financial stability.
    Also firming against the dollar was the Chinese yuan
 and the Philippine peso. 
    The yuan strengthened on the first trading day of the new
year, supported by a firmer official yuan midpoint reflecting
broad weakness in the U.S. dollar. Traders said weaker
manufacturing readings had been expected.
    
SINGAPORE DOLLAR 
    The dollar dipped as one of the region's most stable
economies begins to feel the impact of trade frictions between
the United States and China.
    The city-state reported fourth-quarter economic growth that
was about half as strong as expected after the manufacturing
sector shrank. The government forecast GDP growth in 2019 in the
range of 1.5 percent and 3.5 percent.
     OCBC Bank in a note to clients said the contraction in
manufacturing showed that "the softening global demand
environment was starting to weigh into the year-end."
 
    The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against
the dollar at 0531 GMT.
    
    CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR
 Currency                     Latest bid  Previous day  Pct Move
 Japan yen                    109.390     109.71        +0.29
 Sing dlr                     1.365       1.3631        -0.12
 Taiwan dlr                   30.793      30.733        -0.19
 Korean won                   1119.500    1115.7        -0.34
 Baht                         32.360      32.58         +0.68
 Peso                         52.490      52.58         +0.17
 Rupiah                       14475.000   14375         -0.69
 Rupee                        69.663      69.45         -0.31
 Ringgit                      4.135       4.13          -0.12
 Yuan                         6.856       6.8730        +0.25
                                                        
 Change so far in 2019                                  
 Currency                     Latest bid  End 2018      Pct Move
 Japan yen                    109.390     109.56        +0.16
 Sing dlr                     1.365       1.3627        -0.15
 Taiwan dlr                   30.793      30.733        -0.19
 Korean won                   1119.500    1115.70       -0.34
 Baht                         32.360      32.55         +0.59
 Peso                         52.490      52.58         +0.17
 Rupiah                       14475.000   14375         -0.69
 Rupee                        69.663      69.77         +0.15
 Ringgit                      4.135       4.1300        -0.12
 Yuan                         6.856       6.8730        +0.25
 
 (Reporting by Niyati Shetty in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim
Coghill)
  
 
 
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