May 24, 2018 / 6:26 AM / a year ago

EM ASIA FX-Most Asian currencies gain as dollar pulls back on Fed minutes, tariff threats

    * Indian rupee firms after Wednesday's fall to lowest in a
    * New gov outlines Bank Indonesia moves to stabilise rupiah 
    * Malaysia's ringgit slips to more than 4-month low

 (Adds text, updates prices)
    By Nikhil Nainan
    May 24 (Reuters) - Most emerging Asian currencies
strengthened on Thursday as the dollar weakened following
seemingly dovish minutes from the Federal Reserve's last policy
meeting and possible new U.S. tariffs.
    While the minutes showed most policymakers thought it likely
another interest rate increase would be warranted, the minutes
also assuaged fears the Fed would speed up the tempo at which it
raises rates.
    "The FOMC minutes left little clue with regards to prospects
for a fourth hike for 2018, although expectations for the next
hike were cemented further," OCBC Bank said in a note. 
    Caution was magnified by new setbacks in U.S.-China trade
talks and as U.S President Donald Trump raised the prospect of
new tariffs on imported cars.
    Indonesia's rupiah, which has been facing intense
volatility of late, firmed 0.3 percent to 14,160. 
    Statements from Perry Warjiyo, Bank Indonesia's newly
appointed governor, affirmed its commitment to stabilising the
currency, noting that BI had bought more than 50 trillion rupiah
of bonds from foreign holders so far this year.
    Singapore's dollar was a shade firmer at 1.342
after news the city-state's economy grew slightly faster in the
first quarter than initially estimated.
    That news prompted the government to revise its full-year
growth outlook upward to between 2.5 percent and 3.5 percent. 
    India's rupee consolidated at 68.325 after falling
on Wednesday to its lowest in more than a year. 
    Surging oil prices have weighed on India, the world's third
largest importer of the commodity, raising fears that soaring
costs could drive up inflation and widen the trade deficit. 
    The South Korean won gained 0.2 percent on the
dollar after the central bank kept rates unchanged as expected
for a sixth straight month, taking into account inflation
running below target and fears of spillover effects from
Sino-U.S. trade tensions.
    Bank of Korea Governor Lee Ju-yeol said the vote to hold
rates was unanimous, upsetting predictions that dissenting votes
may have signalled a rate hike later in the year.

    The Malaysian ringgit pared some losses afer slipping
to its lowest in more than four months. 
    "The ringgit remains mired in political risk as the market
tries to understand details about the new government's plan to
deal with the fiscal deficit after repealing GST," said Stephen
Innes, head of trading for Asia-Pacific at Oanda.
    Foreign investors have trimmed their exposure to local bonds
with the possible implications of the new government's fiscal
and economic polices weighing on sentiment.
    Equity markets have seen sustained net foreign outflows so
far this week, with the Malaysia index slipping to its
lowest level in five months earlier in the session. 
   "All roads are pointing to a test of 4 ringgit to the dollar
as the Kuala Lumpur Composite Index continues to break down on
the lack of foreign demand," added Oanda's Innes.  
 Change on the day at 0502 GMT                          
 Currency                     Latest bid  Previous day  Pct Move
 Japan yen                    109.460     110.07        +0.56
 Sing dlr                     1.342       1.3433        +0.07
 Taiwan dlr                   29.935      29.960        +0.08
 Korean won                   1079.000    1080.7        +0.16
 Baht                         32.130      32.13         +0.00
 Peso                         52.549      52.455        -0.18
 Rupiah                       14160.000   14202         +0.30
 Rupee                        68.325      68.42         +0.14
 Ringgit                      3.981       3.98          -0.03
 Yuan                         6.391       6.3883        -0.04
 Change so far in 2018                                  
 Currency                     Latest bid  End 2017      Pct Move
 Japan yen                    109.460     112.67        +2.93
 Sing dlr                     1.342       1.3373        -0.37
 Taiwan dlr                   29.935      29.848        -0.29
 Korean won                   1079.000    1070.50       -0.79
 Baht                         32.130      32.58         +1.40
 Peso                         52.549      49.977        -4.89
 Rupiah                       14160.000   13565         -4.20
 Rupee                        68.325      63.87         -6.52
 Ringgit                      3.981       4.0440        +1.58
 Yuan                         6.391       6.5069        +1.82

 (Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru)
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