July 24, 2019 / 4:23 AM / a month ago

EM ASIA FX-Most Asian currencies move gingerly before ECB, rupiah slips

    * Prospective rate cut decision weighs on sentiment
    * Higher oil prices put rupee, rupiah, baht under strain
    * Rupiah slips to a near 2-week low 

 (Adds text, updates prices)
    By Aby Jose Koilparambil
    July 24 (Reuters) - The Indonesian rupiah weakened to a near
two-week low on Wednesday, while most other regional currencies
barely moved  as investors stayed cautious ahead of Thursday's
European Central Bank (ECB) meeting.
    Central bank easing remains a key theme for currency
markets, amid persistent global growth worries, fuelling
expectations the ECB will cut, as will the U.S. Federal Reserve
on July 31. 
    Unlike Asian shares, regional currencies did not strengthen
following a Bloomberg report that U.S. Trade Representative
Robert Lighthizer would travel to Shanghai next week to meet
Chinese officials.
    White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Tuesday called
the meeting a good sign and said he expected Beijing to start
buying U.S. agriculture products soon.
    Khoon Goh, head of research at ANZ Banking Group
(Singapore), said that despite the positive news on Sino-U.S.
trade, Asian currencies "were relatively subdued as market
participants are awaiting the ECB decision on Thursday, where a
rate cut is highly likely."  
    The South Korean won, Philippine peso, 
Singapore dollar and Tawian dollar traded in a
narrow range.
    The Indian rupee fell as much as 0.2%, while the
Chinese yuan, the Malaysian ringgit and the
Thai baht depreciated about 0.1% each.
    The rupiah slipped as much as 0.3 to 14,022 against
the dollar, its weakest level since July 12.
    Goh attributed the rupiah losses to profit-taking after the
currency's strong showing last week, where it gained 0.5%.
    The rupiah unit has appreciated in each of the past five
weeks, but has lost about 0.6% so far this one. 
    Another factor putting the rupiah under pressure is rising
oil prices rooted in lingering concerns about possible supply
disruptions in the Middle East.
    The currencies of major oil importers including India,
Indonesia and Thailand have come under strain following Iran's
seizure last week of a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz,
which has raised global prices.
    The Brent benchmark prices have risen about 2.5%
this week, with the rupee and the baht falling as much as 0.4%
and 0.5%, respectively.
 Change on the day at   0342 GMT                  
 Currency               Latest bid  Previous day  Pct Move
 Japan yen              108.170     108.21        +0.04
 Sing dlr               1.365       1.3650        -0.02
 Taiwan dlr             31.078      31.091        +0.04
 Korean won             1177.900    1178.9        +0.08
 Baht                   30.910      30.9          -0.03
 Peso                   51.255      51.25         -0.01
 Rupiah                 14010.000   13980         -0.21
 Rupee                  69.040      68.94         -0.14
 Ringgit                4.119       4.118         -0.02
 Yuan                   6.883       6.8794        -0.05
 Change so far in 2019                            
 Currency               Latest bid  End 2018      Pct Move
 Japan yen              108.170     109.56        +1.29
 Sing dlr               1.365       1.3627        -0.19
 Taiwan dlr             31.078      30.733        -1.11
 Korean won             1177.900    1115.70       -5.28
 Baht                   30.910      32.55         +5.31
 Peso                   51.255      52.47         +2.37
 Rupiah                 14010.000   14375         +2.61
 Rupee                  69.040      69.77         +1.06
 Ringgit                4.119       4.1300        +0.27
 Yuan                   6.883       6.8730        -0.14

 (Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by
Richard Borsuk)
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