November 16, 2018 / 6:31 AM / 6 months ago

EM ASIA FX-Most Asian currencies firmer; Indonesia's rupiah leads gains

 (Adds text, updates prices)
    Nov 16 (Reuters) - Most Asian currencies firmed in a thin
range on Friday as hopes of easing trade tension between China
and the United States were undercut by political turmoil over
Brexit in a mixed week for regional emerging markets.
    Better prospects for a consensus between the U.S. and China
on trade issues, coupled with a fall in prices of crude oil have
cheered key currency markets, with the Indian rupee,
the Indonesian rupiah and the Philippine peso on
track to post weekly gains.
    "The G-10 currencies are having great influence on emerging
market currencies, particularly in Asia, which is really
dollar-driven sentiment as a whole," said Stephen Innes, head of
Asia-Pacific trading at Oanda. "It (trade) is somewhat muted
    The dollar benefited from a deepening crisis for Britain's
Prime Minister Theresa May after the resignations of key
ministers imperilled her Brexit plan, sparking a tumultuous
overnight slide in sterling. 
    The Indonesian rupiah and the Philippine peso appreciated on
Thursday's rate hikes by the countries' respective central
    The Indonesian rupiah led the gainers, rising up to 0.9
percent to touch a one-week high against the dollar, and was on
course for a gain of 0.4 percent for the week.
    Indonesia's central bank raised its benchmark interest rate
for the sixth time this year, as policymakers struggle to reduce
imports and lower a yawning current-account deficit.

    Bank Indonesia has now hiked the key rate six times, for a
total of 175 bps, since May. 
    The peso rose up to 0.3 percent, heading for a weekly gain
of 0.1 percent as the Philippine central bank on Thursday raised
its benchmark interest rate for the fifth straight time in a bid
to bring elevated inflation back to within its target range next
    The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has now lifted borrowing
costs by 175 basis points (bps) this year to tackle stubborn
price pressures, but is forecasting inflation will ease next
year, suggesting its current tightening cycle may be at an end.
    "Amidst slower growth and lower oil prices, investors have
started to give the peso the doubt that the five hikes since May
could anchor inflation expectations," analysts at DBS Group
Research said in a note.
    Indian rupee traded up 0.1 percent, while the Thai baht
 rose 0.2 percent.
    The Malaysian ringgit was little changed after Friday's data
showed the economy grew at an annual 4.4 percent pace in
July-September, the fourth straight quarter of slowing growth as
Malaysia grapples with weak external demand.
    Among the decliners, the Chinese yuan and the
Korean won lost up to 0.07 percent and 0.2 percent,
    Bearish bets on most Asian currencies slackened over the
last two weeks, a Reuters poll showed, as a plunge in oil prices
benefited the region's major crude importers, India, and to a
lesser extent, Indonesia and the Philippines.
    More short positions were unwound in the Indonesian rupiah
 than in other regional currencies, a poll of 12
respondents showed. Short rupiah positions were at their lowest
since early September.
    The poll was conducted before Indonesia unexpectedly raised
its policy interest rate on Thursday.
    Here are rates for Asian currencies against the dollar at
0622 GMT.
 Currency                     Latest bid  Previous day  Pct Move
 Japan yen                    113.280     113.62        +0.30
 Sing dlr                     1.375       1.3749        -0.01
 Taiwan dlr                   30.864      30.845        -0.06
 Korean won                   1129.400    1129.2        -0.02
 Baht                         32.980      33.02         +0.12
 Peso                         52.640      52.805        +0.31
 Rupiah                       14540.000   14675         +0.93
 Rupee                        71.770      71.98         +0.29
 Ringgit                      4.191       4.19          -0.02
 Yuan                         6.940       6.9380        -0.03
 Change so far in 2018                                  
 Currency                     Latest bid  End 2017      Pct Move
 Japan yen                    113.280     112.67        -0.54
 Sing dlr                     1.375       1.3373        -2.74
 Taiwan dlr                   30.864      29.848        -3.29
 Korean won                   1129.400    1070.50       -5.22
 Baht                         32.980      32.58         -1.21
 Peso                         52.640      49.93         -5.15
 Rupiah                       14540.000   13565         -6.71
 Rupee                        71.770      63.87         -11.01
 Ringgit                      4.191       4.0440        -3.51
 Yuan                         6.940       6.5069        -6.24

 (Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by
Clarence Fernandez)
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