December 18, 2018 / 5:06 AM / a month ago

EM ASIA FX-Most Asian currencies firm, Indonesian rupiah leads gains

    * Rupiah, rupee gain as oil prices fall
    * Thai c.bank expected to raise interest rates on Wednesday
    * China will ensure implementation of major reform measures
- Xi

 (Adds text, updates prices)
    By Niyati Shetty
    Dec 18 (Reuters) - Most Asian currencies firmed on Tuesday
as the U.S. dollar stumbled on speculation the Federal Reserve
may soften its monetary policy stance amid rising risks of
slowing economic growth.
    Leading the region's gains, the Indonesian rupiah
strengthened 0.6 percent and the Indian rupee gained
0.4 percent as oil prices slumped in the face of supply glut
worries.
    The dollar remained under pressure after gloomy economic
data reinforced bets that the Fed's widely expected rate hike on
Wednesday - which would be its fourth increase this year - would
usher in a slowdown, or even a pause, to three years of steady
rate increases.
    The New York Fed's Empire State business index for December
fell to its lowest in 19 months, signifying slowing business
activity. Meanwhile, the National Association of Home Builders
Housing Market Index indicated U.S. homebuilder sentiment had
fallen to a three-and-a-half-year low.
    OCBC Bank said in a research note on Monday "there is a
strong possibility for a reaffirmation of a more cautious stance
from the Fed after the December FOMC. This should provide
emerging-market currencies with some relief and possibly help
provide some support for the IDR."
    Indonesia's central bank is expected to keep interest rates
unchanged at its policy meeting on Thursday, after raising it
six times since May this year, a Reuters poll showed.
   
    The yuan held steady as President Xi Jinping said
China will expand efforts to open up and ensure the
implementation of major reform measures.
    Xi's speech, which marked the 40th anniversary of the
opening up of the Chinese economy, comes amid mounting pressure
to accelerate reforms as a bitter trade war with the United
States weighs on China's economy. 
    Also fractionally up against the dollar, was the Korean won
, the Malaysian ringgit and the Singapore
dollar. 
    
    THAI BAHT 
    The baht was marginally stronger against the dollar
ahead of the country's central bank meeting on Wednesday.
    Economists polled by Reuters expect the Bank of Thailand to
raise its key interest rate by 25 basis points from near-record
lows for the first time in more than seven years.
    An increase would reflect how policymakers are wary of
financial risks and would give them some room to cut the
benchmark later if global economic conditions deteriorate. 

    The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against
the dollar at 0430 GMT.
    
    CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR
 Currency                  Latest bid  Previous day  Pct Move
 Japan yen                 112.500     112.82        +0.28
 Sing dlr                  1.371       1.3725        +0.11
 Taiwan dlr                30.856      30.870        +0.05
 Korean won                1130.100    1131.3        +0.11
 Baht                      32.738      32.77         +0.10
 Peso                      52.950      52.922        -0.05
 Rupiah                    14480.000   14570         +0.62
 Rupee                     71.255      71.55         +0.41
 Ringgit                   4.175       4.179         +0.10
 Yuan                      6.893       6.8975        +0.07
                                                     
 Change so far in 2018                               
 Currency                  Latest bid  End 2017      Pct Move
 Japan yen                 112.500     112.67        +0.15
 Sing dlr                  1.371       1.3373        -2.46
 Taiwan dlr                30.856      29.848        -3.27
 Korean won                1130.100    1070.50       -5.27
 Baht                      32.738      32.58         -0.48
 Peso                      52.950      49.93         -5.70
 Rupiah                    14480.000   13565         -6.32
 Rupee                     71.255      63.87         -10.36
 Ringgit                   4.175       4.0440        -3.14
 Yuan                      6.893       6.5069        -5.60
 

 (Reporting by Niyati Shetty in Bengaluru
Editing by Jacqueline Wong)
  
 
 
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