May 23, 2018 / 6:24 AM / a year ago

EM ASIA FX-Most Asian currencies weaken as appetites for risk dented

    * Indian rupee slips to lowest since Jan 2017
    * Yen up after Trump comments on China trade, N. Korea
    * S. Korea won strengthens ahead of policy meeting 

 (Adds text, updates prices)
    By Nikhil Nainan
    May 23 (Reuters) - Most emerging Asian currencies weakened
on Wednesday as investors trimmed exposure to riskier assets and
the dollar edged higher, while the South Korean won climbed a
day before a central bank decision in Seoul.
    Investors sought safer assets after U.S. President Donald
Trump said there was a "substantial chance" his summit with
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would not take place as planned
on June 12.
    Trump also tempered optimism over progress made in trade
talks between the U.S. and China, saying he was not pleased with
recent trade talks.
    "Most funds go into less risky assets like the yen," said
Manny Cruz, an analyst with Asiasec Equities in Manila. "One of
the reasons for this is the optimism over the U.S.-China trade
talks has started to dissipate."  
    The dollar's gain comes ahead of the release later on
Wednesday of minutes of the latest Federal Reserves policy
    "Markets are likely to scrutinise for hints of a tighter
Federal Reserve. Disappointment here could continue to slow the
pace of yield increases," said Christopher Wong, a FX strategist
with Maybank.
    On Wednesday, the Malaysian ringgit slipped 0.2
percent to 3.973 to the dollar. 
    April's annual consumer inflation rate was 1.4
percent, but below expectations of 1.6 percent.
    The Singapore dollar weakened to 1.342 against the
greenback. Singapore's April's headline consumer price index
also rose less than expected. 
    Philippine's peso dipped 0.3 percent to 52.381 to the
    The Philippines reported a budget surplus of 46.3 billion 
pesos ($886 million) in April, helping to narrow its deficit in
the first four months of 2018. But the April surplus was 12
percent smaller than it was one year earlier.
    Meanwhile, oil prices remain stubbornly close to $80 a
barrel, a concerning development for oil-importing nations, as
this could drive up inflation and widen trade deficits.

    Indonesia's rupiah slipped 0.4 percent to 14,190. The
government on Tuesday said it will raise subsidies to protect
the public from soaring global oil prices.
    The Indian rupee weakened to 68.188 to the dollar,
its lowest since January 2017.
    "Higher oil prices and U.S. Treasury yields may continue to
undermine the rupee, rupiah and peso as they are net oil
importers and suffer from twin deficits of fiscal budget and
current account," Wong of Maybank said. 
    South Korea's won strengthened 0.7 percent to
1078.4 to the dollar, even though the country's central bank is
not expected to change rates at Thursday's policy meeting,
according to a Reuters poll.
    However, poll results noted that the voting might not be
unanimous, potentially setting the framework for a rate hike in
    "Widening rate differential with the Fed may be a cause to
hike, but we think this should come later in the year," OCBC
Treasury Research said in a note.

 Change on the day at   0526 GMT                        
 Currency                     Latest bid  Previous day  Pct Move
 Japan yen                    110.460     110.88        +0.38
 Sing dlr                     1.342       1.3390        -0.19
 Taiwan dlr                   29.917      29.922        +0.02
 Korean won                   1078.400    1085.4        +0.65
 Baht                         32.065      32.04         -0.08
 Peso                         52.381      52.241        -0.27
 Rupiah                       14190.000   14133         -0.40
 Rupee                        68.188      68.04         -0.22
 Ringgit                      3.973       3.9655        -0.19
 Yuan                         6.374       6.3654        -0.14
 Change so far in 2018                                  
 Currency                     Latest bid  End 2017      Pct Move
 Japan yen                    110.460     112.67        +2.00
 Sing dlr                     1.342       1.3373        -0.31
 Taiwan dlr                   29.917      29.848        -0.23
 Korean won                   1078.400    1070.50       -0.73
 Baht                         32.065      32.58         +1.61
 Peso                         52.381      49.977        -4.59
 Rupiah                       14190.000   13565         -4.40
 Rupee                        68.188      63.87         -6.33
 Ringgit                      3.973       4.0440        +1.79
 Yuan                         6.374       6.5069        +2.08

 (Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by
Richard Borsuk)
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