January 14, 2019 / 5:47 AM / 4 months ago

EM ASIA FX-Most Asian currencies falter on bleak Chinese trade data

    * Korean won softens 0.5 pct
    * India's inflation data due later in the day
    * Indonesian Dec trade data expected on Tuesday 

 (Adds text, updates prices)
    By Niyati Shetty
    Jan 14 (Reuters) - Most Asian currencies lost ground on
Monday as unexpectedly weak  monthly trade data from China
inflamed concerns of a deteriorating global growth outlook in
the face of a potentially sharper slowdown in the world's second
    Official data showed exports from China in December
unexpectedly shrank 4.4 percent from a year ago, its biggest
monthly drop in two years. Imports also contracted the most 
since July 2016.
     The Chinese yuan gave up most of its earlier
gains on the shock data, and was modestly up at 0453 GMT. Most
of its emerging Asian peers also took a hit having gained last
week on optimism over Sino-U.S. trade talks and a dovish outlook
for Federal Reserve policy.
    "Investors are now less distracted by romanticized versions
of US-China sweet (trade) talk and against the mood music of a
less stridently hawkish Fed," said Vishnu Varathan, senior
economist at Mizuho Bank, in a note. 
    Softening demand in China is already being felt around the
world, with slowing sales of goods ranging from iPhones to
automobiles prompting profit warnings from the likes of Apple
and Jaguar Land Rover.
    The Korean won led declines in the region,
dropping 0.5 percent to 1,122.40 on the dollar. 
    OCBC Bank in a note to clients said that the protracted
US-China trade tensions have prompted many foreign investors to
pull out funds from South Korea's export-led economy.
    Elsewhere, the Indonesian rupiah softened 0.3
percent, ahead of the country's December trade data due on
    The trade deficit in Southeast Asia's largest economy is
seen shrinking by half in December with exports expected to have
rebounded and as imports grew more slowly as oil prices dipped,
a Reuters poll showed.
    The Thai baht, the Philippine peso and the
Taiwan dollar also were marginally weaker on the
    The Indian rupee weakened 0.2 percent against the
greenback. Markets are awaiting the country's inflation data due
later in the day. 
    According to a Reuters poll, India's December retail
inflation is expected to have eased to its lowest since June
2017 as food costs and fuel prices rose at a slower pace.
   Such an outcome is expected to give the Reserve Bank of India
breathing space to keep policy on hold in the face of a slowing
   Yet the pressure on the rupee, which had managed to bounce
towards the end last year, is expected to build in 2019.
Analysts cite uncertainty around national elections in May and a
wobbly economy as a negative for the rupee this year, another
Reuters poll found.
    Last week, data showed the country's industrial output
slumped in November.
    The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against
the dollar at 0453 GMT.
 Currency               Latest bid  Previous day  Pct Move
 Japan yen              108.120     108.54        +0.39
 Sing dlr               1.353       1.3527        -0.01
 Taiwan dlr             30.841      30.802        -0.13
 Korean won             1122.400    1116.4        -0.53
 Baht                   31.953      31.9          -0.16
 Peso                   52.200      52.118        -0.16
 Rupiah                 14085.000   14040         -0.32
 Rupee                  70.670      70.49         -0.26
 Ringgit                4.094       4.094          0.00
 Yuan                   6.756       6.7666        +0.16
 Change so far in 2019                            
 Currency               Latest bid  End 2018      Pct Move
 Japan yen              108.120     109.56        +1.33
 Sing dlr               1.353       1.3627        +0.73
 Taiwan dlr             30.841      30.733        -0.35
 Korean won             1122.400    1115.70       -0.60
 Baht                   31.953      32.55         +1.87
 Peso                   52.200      52.47         +0.52
 Rupiah                 14085.000   14375         +2.06
 Rupee                  70.670      69.77         -1.27
 Ringgit                4.094       4.1300        +0.88
 Yuan                   6.756       6.8730        +1.73

 (Reporting by Niyati Shetty in Bengaluru)
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