January 3, 2018 / 5:57 AM / a year ago

EM ASIA FX-Most Asian currencies make small moves; Thai baht at over 2-yr high

 (Adds details, updates prices)
    By Ambar Warrick
    Jan 3 (Reuters) - The Thai baht surged to its highest in
well over two years while some other Asian currencies trudged
lower against the dollar as investors awaited the minutes of the
U.S. Federal Reserve's December policy meeting. 
    The dollar recovered slightly after hitting a 3-1/2 month
low against a basket of currencies on Tuesday. 
    The Fed minutes, due later in the day, are expected to shed
some light on its fiscal policies for 2018, and could
potentially renew interest in the greenback.
    "The greenback’s ability to claw back losses depends on
tonight’s FOMC minutes playing down the prospect of a pause in
Fed hikes in March," DBS said in a research note. "The risk
remains for incoming Fed Chair Jerome Powell to show policy
continuity after Janet Yellen’s term expires in February."
    A revived dollar could cause capital outflows from emerging
    The South Korean won on Wednesday shed as much as
0.6 percent against the dollar, its biggest intraday drop in
nearly one month. 
    In 2017, the won was the best performer among emerging Asian
currencies, gaining about 12.8 percent during its best year
since 2004. The Indonesian rupiah was the worst performer
in 2017, losing about 0.7 percent against the dollar. 
    The Singapore dollar, which gained the past five
days, on Wednesday fell slightly against the dollar. The
currency  hit a more than 2-1/2 year high on Tuesday. 
    The Chinese yuan also inched lower against the
dollar after three straight sessions of gains. The yuan fell
despite China's central bank lifting its official yuan midpoint
 to the highest level in over 1-1/2 years.
    The baht was the biggest percentage gainer among
Asian currencies on Wednesday, rising as much as 0.5 percent
against the dollar.
   Thailand's headline consumer prices rose in December but by
less below forecast, data showed on Wednesday. Marginal
inflation in the country would allow policymakers to keep
interest rates low.
    ANZ said the 1.50 percent key interest rate is "sufficiently
supportive for growth to deepen further".
    Thai stocks hit a 24-year high following the release
of the December inflation data. 
    The baht gained nearly 10 percent against the dollar in
2017, marking its best year since 2010.

    The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against
the dollar on Wednesday. 
 CURRENCIES VS U.S.                                     
 Change on the day at   0449 GMT                        
 Currency                     Latest bid  Previous day  Pct Move
 Japan yen                    112.270     112.28        +0.01
 Sing dlr                     1.329       1.3289        -0.03
 Taiwan dlr                   29.594      29.628        +0.11
 Korean won                   1066.100    1061.2        -0.46
 Baht                         32.449      32.58         +0.40
 Peso                         49.890      49.93         +0.08
 Rupiah                       13495.000   13515         +0.15
 Rupee                        63.510      63.48         -0.06
 Ringgit                      4.024       4.018         -0.15
 Yuan                         6.504       6.4949        -0.14
 Change so far in 2018                                  
 Currency                     Latest bid  End 2017      Pct Move
 Japan yen                    112.270     112.67        +0.36
 Sing dlr                     1.329       1.3373        +0.60
 Taiwan dlr                   29.594      29.848        +0.86
 Korean won                   1066.100    1070.50       +0.41
 Baht                         32.449      32.58         +0.40
 Peso                         49.890      49.93         +0.08
 Rupiah                       13495.000   13565         +0.52
 Rupee                        63.510      63.87         +0.57
 Ringgit                      4.024       4.0440        +0.50
 Yuan                         6.504       6.5069        +0.04

 (Reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard
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