December 31, 2019 / 6:18 AM / 2 months ago

EM ASIA FX-Most Asian currencies set to end 2019 on firm note

    * Taiwan dollar leads gains on Tuesday
    * S.Korean won top loser in 2019
    * Thailand's baht leads gains in 2019

 (Adds text, updates prices)
    By Shriya Ramakrishnan
    Dec 31 (Reuters) - Most Asian currencies were set to end the
year on a firm note, with the Taiwan dollar leading gains on
Tuesday, as investors cheered fresh developments on the
Sino-U.S. trade deal front and upbeat factory activity data from
    The White House's trade adviser said on Monday the Phase 1
deal would likely be signed next week, but said confirmation
would come from President Donald Trump or the U.S. Trade
    The deal announced earlier this month has alleviated
concerns about near-term escalation in tensions between the
world's two top economies - a major sign of relief for
currencies in Asia, most of which ended 2018 in the red.
    Adding to the upbeat sentiment, data showed factory activity
in China expanded for a second straight month in December, as
Beijing's stimulus measures buoyed domestic demand.
    The Taiwan dollar strengthened 0.5% on Tuesday,
hitting its best level in more than a year. The trade-reliant
economy has bucked a regional trend of growth downgrades, helped
by manufacturers moving production back home from China to avoid
higher tariffs.
    China's yuan extended gains to a near three-week
high, supported by a firmer-than-expected midpoint fixing by the
central bank.
    Volatility was high during the year, with the currency
breaching the key 7 per dollar level for the first time in over
a decade in August, as trade tensions intensified. The yuan was 
set for a second straight annual loss.
    The Singapore dollar edged up 0.1%, while the
Malaysian ringgit advanced 0.3%.
    Investor focus will now turn to the fourth-quarter growth
figures for Singapore, which is forecast to have expanded at a
slightly faster pace, with economists expecting a pick-up in the
services sector to compensate for a prolonged manufacturing
    The Indian rupee ticked up 0.1% but was set for a
second annual loss. Concerns over a slowdown in growth weighed
on the rupee this year, with economists stressing on the need
for more fiscal intervention.
    Financial markets in the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia
and South Korea were closed for holidays. 
    The Philippine peso and the Indonesian rupiah
were up 0.2% and 0.4% respectively, in light offshore trade.
    The peso and the rupiah were poised to gain about 3.5% and
3.6% respectively this year, with analysts saying these
currencies benefited from demand for higher yields in a
low-interest rate environment. 
    The South Korean won was the region's worst
performer for the year, weakening 3.5%, while the Thai baht
 emerged as the top performer, driven by its large
current account surplus.   
 Change on the day at   0533 GMT                  
 Currency               Latest bid  Previous day  Pct Move
 Japan yen              108.640     108.86        +0.20
 Sing dlr               1.347       1.3485        +0.10
 Taiwan dlr             30.000      30.135        +0.45
 Peso                   50.680      50.78         +0.20
 Rupiah                 13870.000   13920         +0.36
 Rupee                  71.280      71.31         +0.05
 Ringgit                4.092       4.1045        +0.31
 Yuan                   6.978       6.9865        +0.12
 Change so far in 2019                            
 Currency               Latest bid  End 2018      Pct Move
 Japan yen              108.640     109.56        +0.85
 Sing dlr               1.347       1.3627        +1.16
 Taiwan dlr             30.000      30.733        +2.44
 Korean won             1156.400    1115.70       -3.52
 Baht                   29.900      32.55         +8.86
 Peso                   50.680      52.47         +3.53
 Rupiah                 13870.000   14375         +3.64
 Rupee                  71.280      69.77         -2.12
 Ringgit                4.092       4.1300        +0.93
 Yuan                   6.978       6.8730        -1.50

 (Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by
Subhranshu Sahu)
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