May 19, 2020 / 5:26 AM / 13 days ago

EM ASIA FX-Most Asian currencies rise as vaccine hopes renew risk appetite

    * Weak dollar, vaccine hopes boost Asian FX and equities
    * Sensitivity to vaccine news may dull over time -Maybank
    * Indonesian rupiah steady ahead of cenbank rate decision
    * Bank Indonesia seen cutting rates 3rd time this year -Poll

 (Adds text, updates prices)
    By Rashmi Ashok
    May 19 (Reuters) - Most Asian currencies ticked higher
against a weaker dollar on Tuesday after encouraging data from
an early-stage trial for a coronavirus vaccine lifted sentiment
towards risky Asian assets.
    U.S. equities rallied on Monday after drugmaker Moderna
Inc's experimental COVID-19 vaccine appeared safe and
showed promise in a small group of healthy volunteers, according
to very early data.
    The dollar - usually in strong demand during economic
distress - fell sharply as risk sentiment recovered, giving
added benefit to relatively risky Asian currencies.
    Some export-sensitive currencies notched firmer gains, with
the South Korean won adding 0.5%. The Thai baht
 firmed 0.4%, while the Taiwan dollar added
0.15%.
    However, gains were muted across the board as wary investors
awaited further information on the potential vaccine, given that
various compounds and medicines touted as cures have failed to
deliver in the past two months. 
    "With more than a hundred vaccines currently under
development around the globe, we may see more vaccine-related
headlines swinging markets yet," Maybank analysts wrote in a
note.
    "Nonetheless, sensitivity to vaccine news may decrease over
time, until more concrete evidence of a successful vaccine ready
for mass application is found."
    The Philippine peso rose 0.2%, while the Malaysian
ringgit and the Indian rupee gained 0.4% and
0.2%, respectively. The Chinese yuan was flat, while
the Singapore dollar eased. 
    
    RUPIAH STEADY AHEAD OF INTEREST RATE DECISION
    The Indonesian rupiah held steady ahead of the
central bank's policy decision due around 0700 GMT.
    A Reuters poll showed Bank Indonesia is expected to deliver
this year's third rate cut as it steps up efforts to revive an
economy hit by the coronavirus crisis.
    However, a significant number of analysts in the poll expect
rates to be held, given that BI Governor Perry Warjiyo has
hinted that the central bank's priority of keeping the rupiah
stable might prevent an early cut.
    Either way, Maybank analysts expect the decision to have low
impact on the IDR, saying the psychological level of 15,000
against the dollar cited as a plausible year-end forecast by BI
officials earlier seems to be anchoring trading sentiments for
now.
    The rupiah has been the worst performer among Asian
currencies this year, having shed 6.2% as of last close,
followed closely by the baht.
    
The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against the
dollar at 0443 GMT.
    CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR
    
 Currency               Latest bid  Previous day  Pct Move
 Japan yen              107.400     107.33        -0.07
 Sing dlr               1.419       1.4180        -0.04
 Taiwan dlr             29.937      29.980        +0.14
 Korean won             1226.100    1232.4        +0.51
 Baht                   31.880      32.02         +0.44
 Peso                   50.771      50.86         +0.18
 Rupiah                 14800.000   14820         +0.14
 Rupee                  75.760      75.91         +0.19
 Ringgit                4.345       4.36          +0.35
 Yuan                   7.110       7.1105        +0.01
                                                  
 Change so far in 2020                            
 Currency               Latest bid  End 2019      Pct Move
 Japan yen              107.400     108.61        +1.13
 Sing dlr               1.419       1.3444        -5.23
 Taiwan dlr             29.937      30.106        +0.56
 Korean won             1226.100    1156.40       -5.68
 Baht                   31.880      29.91         -6.18
 Peso                   50.771      50.65         -0.24
 Rupiah                 14800.000   13880         -6.22
 Rupee                  75.760      71.38         -5.78
 Ringgit                4.345       4.0890        -5.89
 Yuan                   7.110       6.9632        -2.06
 
 (Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu
Sahu)
  
 
 
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