September 18, 2019 / 5:46 AM / 3 months ago

EM ASIA FX-Most Asian currencies edge higher; rupee gains on easing oil prices

    * Investors await Federal Reserve policy decision
    * Indonesia, Taiwan rate decisions expected on Thursday
    * Units of net oil importers firm on drop in oil prices

 (Adds text, updates prices)
    By Shreya Mariam Job
    Sept 18 (Reuters) - Most Asian currencies firmed marginally
on Wednesday as investors waited for the U.S. Federal Reserve
rate decision and its outlook for any further easing, while a
drop in oil prices lifted units of large oil importers. 
    The market largely expects the Fed to cut its benchmark rate
by 25 basis points at its meeting late on Wednesday, marking the
second rate reduction this year.
    While easing at the September meeting is seen as a
near-certainty, the deep divide among the Fed policymakers on
further monetary stimulus has kept investors on the sidelines.
    "The important focus for the markets is whether Fed Chair
Powell will indicate that more cuts are in the pipeline or this
is another mid-cycle adjustment," Singapore-based commercial
bank UOB said in a note.
    The dollar index measuring the greenback against a
basket of six major currencies was little changed.
    The Indian rupee gained the most in the region
strengthening 0.5% buoyed by easing oil prices. The currency has
taken an over 1% hit since the attacks on Saudi Arabian oil
facilities drove up the commodity's prices.
    Saudi Arabia's energy minister said the kingdom will restore
lost oil production by the end of the month. However, the risk
of escalation in Middle East tensions kept markets subdued.

    The Thai Baht also firmed marginally. The
Philippine peso and the South Korean won, on the
other hand, edged lower. 
    Taiwan and Indonesian central banks are set to announce
benchmark rate decisions on Thursday amid expectations of
monetary easing by major central banks like the U.S. Federal
Reserve and the Bank of Japan.
    Indonesia's central bank is expected to cut its benchmark
rate for the third meeting in a row to support growth. Ahead of
the decision, the rupiah strengthened 0.1%, also
supported by easing oil prices. 
    Meanwhile, the central bank in Taiwan is expected to leave
its policy rate steady for the thirteenth consecutive quarter
amid signs that the export outlook may be slowly improving.

    The country had recently raised its 2019 growth forecast
saying more companies were moving production to the island from
mainland China to avoid the higher tariffs. The Taiwan dollar
 strengthened 0.2%. 

    The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against
the dollar at 0537 GMT.
 Change on the day at   0537 GMT                  
 Currency               Latest bid  Previous day  Pct Move
 Japan yen              108.210     108.12        -0.08
 Sing dlr               1.375       1.3739        -0.09
 Taiwan dlr             30.969      31.035        +0.21
 Korean won             1191.800    1190.7        -0.09
 Baht                   30.530      30.56         +0.10
 Peso                   52.240      52.15         -0.17
 Rupiah                 14080.000   14090         +0.07
 Rupee                  71.415      71.78         +0.51
 Ringgit                4.183       4.181         -0.05
 Yuan                   7.087       7.0912        +0.07
 Change so far in 2019                            
 Currency               Latest bid  End 2018      Pct Move
 Japan yen              108.210     109.56        +1.25
 Sing dlr               1.375       1.3627        -0.90
 Taiwan dlr             30.969      30.733        -0.76
 Korean won             1191.800    1115.70       -6.39
 Baht                   30.530      32.55         +6.62
 Peso                   52.240      52.47         +0.44
 Rupiah                 14080.000   14375         +2.10
 Rupee                  71.415      69.77         -2.30
 Ringgit                4.183       4.1300        -1.27
 Yuan                   7.087       6.8730        -3.01

 (Reporting by Shreya Mariam Job in Bengaluru; Editing by
Stephen Coates)
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