March 9, 2018 / 6:32 AM / 8 months ago

EM ASIA FX-Most Asian currencies weaker against dollar on news of N Korea-U.S. meeting

    * Eyes on U.S. labour data due later on Friday
    * S.Korean won, Indian rupee only gainers
    * China's yuan weakens

 (Adds text, updates prices)
    By Aaron Saldanha
    March 9 (Reuters) - The dollar gained against most Asian
currencies on Friday as a potential breakthrough in nuclear
tensions between the United States and North Korea supported
sentiment toward the greenback, while also supporting the South
Korean won.
    Reports that U.S. President Donald Trump has agreed to meet
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by May caused both the dollar
and the South Korean currency to strengthen,
shielding the Asian currency from weakness felt in the rest of
the region.
    Outside of geopolitical factors, U.S. non-farm payroll data
for February is likely to be a key driver for Federal Reserve
rate hike expectations, which could give the dollar some
    "Barring any negative surprises in tonight’s U.S. monthly
jobs data, the Fed is on track to hike rates at its next FOMC
meeting on March 21," DBS Group strategists Eugene Leow and
Philip Wee said in a note. 
    "The Fed is also expected to upgrade its assessment for the
U.S. economy/inflation."
     The dollar index against a basket of six major
currencies was up to 0.15 percent higher at 90.31, the highest
in more than a week. 
    The South Korean won firmed 0.22 percent against the dollar
while the country's benchmark equities index gained up
to 1.8 percent.
    A fortnightly poll of analysts by Reuters showed a doubling
of bullish bets on the won.
    The Indian rupee was 0.07 percent firmer and
Thailand's baht was flat against the dollar.
    Thailand's central bank governor said on Thursday that its
monetary policy needs to remain accommodative to aid the
country's economic recovery as inflationary pressure remains
    The baht has been among the top gaining regional currencies
in the year to date, leading to fears of lower Thai export
    Indonesia's rupiah was 0.04 percent weaker while
the Singapore dollar softened 0.08 percent.
    Similarly, Malaysia's ringgit lost 0.13 percent ahead
of the payroll data while the Taiwan dollar weakened by
0.10 percent.
    The yuan was 0.09 percent weaker against the
    The People's Bank of China set a weaker daily fixing
 for the first time since Monday, at 6.3451 per
    Trump on Thursday pressed ahead with the imposition of 25
percent tariffs on steel imports and 10 percent for aluminium,
though he announced exemptions for Canada and Mexico, and said
exceptions could also be made for other allies.
    China, which produces half the world's steel, said it was
"resolutely opposed" to his decision.
    The Philippine peso was among the worst
performers in the region as inflation and export data released
this week took their toll on the currency. 
     Philippine exports grew at their slowest pace in more than
a year in January keeping the country's trade deficit at a high
level that could further weigh on the peso, which is languishing
near a 12-year low.
    DBS Bank's Wee said Asian currencies with both budget and
current account deficits, including the Philippine peso, will be
more vulnerable to higher U.S. 10-year bond yields.
    The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against
the dollar at 0521 GMT.
  Currency                Latest bid  Previous day    Pct Move
  Japan yen              106.620             106.2       -0.39
  Sing dlr               1.318              1.3170       -0.08
  Taiwan dlr             29.290             29.261       -0.10
  Korean won             1067.900           1070.2       +0.22
  Baht                   31.360              31.36        0.00
  Peso                   52.100              52.03       -0.13
  Rupiah                 13785.000           13780       -0.04
  Rupee                  65.098              65.14       +0.07
  Ringgit                3.912               3.907       -0.13
  Yuan                   6.344              6.3378       -0.09
  Change so far in 2018                                       
  Currency               Latest bid   End 2017        Pct Move
  Japan yen              106.620            112.67       +5.67
  Sing dlr               1.318              1.3373       +1.46
  Taiwan dlr             29.290             29.848       +1.91
  Korean won             1067.900          1070.50       +0.24
  Baht                   31.360              32.58       +3.89
  Peso                   52.100              49.93       -4.17
  Rupiah                 13785.000           13565       -1.60
  Rupee                  65.098              63.87       -1.89
  Ringgit                3.912              4.0440       +3.37
  Yuan                   6.344              6.5069       +2.58
 (Reporting by Aaron Saldanha in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam
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