February 11, 2019 / 5:56 AM / 13 days ago

EM ASIA FX-Most Asian currencies softer ahead of high level Sino-U.S. trade talks

    * Most softer on U.S.-China, global growth worries 
    * Chinese yuan and Indonesian rupiah weaken the most 
    * Philippine peso and Indian rupee benefit from lower oil
prices

 (Adds text, updates prices)
    By Aditya Soni
    Feb 11 (Reuters) - Most emerging Asian units started the
week weaker against the dollar on Monday, as concerns over
slackening world growth and a possible resurgence in U.S.-China
trade frictions kept investors on the sidelines.
    With the latest round of high-level talks between U.S. and
Chinese officials set to kick-off on Thursday, investors stayed
away from risk-sensitive assets and bet on safe-haven dollar. 
    The Indonesian rupiah declined 0.5 percent and was
among the top decliners in the region, following data on Friday
that showed the country's current account deficit widened to its
largest in over four years in 2018's final quarter.
    A swelling current account deficit has been a cause of
concern for Indonesia and partly contributed to the rupiah's
plunge in 2018.
    This has prompted the central bank to hike rates six times
by 175 basis points last year, while the government raised
import taxes and delayed some big infrastructure projects.
    Meanwhile, currencies of major oil importers, the Philippine
peso and Indian rupee firmed 0.2 percent and 0.1
percent, respectively, aided by a drop in crude oil futures
.
    Boosted by the flight to safety bid, the dollar index
firmed about 0.1 percent, staying near a six-week high.
    Expectations of a resolution are low heading into the talks
after U.S. President Donald Trump last week said he did not plan
to meet with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping before a March 1
deadline to achieve a trade deal.   
    "U.S.-China trade talks over the Valentine's Day will be
closely watched for signs of progress. But the reality is that
olive branches, rather than rose stalks, are the best that
anyone (anchored to reality) may be looking for," Mizuho Bank
said in a client note.
    "The half-empty view, with U.S. trade hawks such as
Lighthizer leading trade talks, is that a deal for Trump to sign
off will probably elude. But the half-full take on this
stalemate alongside lack of Trump-Xi meet-up is that the truce
may be extended."
    The Chinese yuan and Taiwan dollar, both
of which began trading after a week-long holiday, weakened 0.6
percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.
    The South Korean and Malaysian ringgit
posted modest losses. 
    The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against
the dollar at 0538 GMT.
    CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR
    
 Change on the day at   0538 GMT                  
 Currency               Latest bid  Previous day  Pct Move
 Japan yen              109.940     109.72        -0.20
 Sing dlr               1.357       1.3563        -0.04
 Taiwan dlr             30.830      30.745        -0.28
 Korean won             1124.800    1123.9        -0.08
 Baht                   31.460      31.46         +0.00
 Peso                   52.010      52.12         +0.21
 Rupiah                 14035.000   13960         -0.53
 Rupee                  71.238      71.30         +0.09
 Ringgit                4.070       4.067         -0.07
 Yuan                   6.778       6.7340        -0.64
                                                  
 Change so far in 2019                            
 Currency               Latest bid  End 2018      Pct Move
 Japan yen              109.940     109.56        -0.35
 Sing dlr               1.357       1.3627        +0.43
 Taiwan dlr             30.830      30.733        -0.31
 Korean won             1124.800    1115.70       -0.81
 Baht                   31.460      32.55         +3.46
 Peso                   52.010      52.47         +0.88
 Rupiah                 14035.000   14375         +2.42
 Rupee                  71.238      69.77         -2.06
 Ringgit                4.070       4.1300        +1.47
 Yuan                   6.778       6.8730        +1.41
 
 (Editing by Sam Holmes)
 
 
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