February 26, 2020 / 6:28 AM / a month ago

EM ASIA FX-Most currencies slip as virus spread sparks risk aversion

    * S. Korean won hits more than 2-month low
    * Chinese yuan eases; Taiwan dollar firms 

 (Adds text, updates prices)
    By Shriya Ramakrishnan
    Feb 26 (Reuters) - Most emerging Asian currencies weakened
on Wednesday as a spike in coronavirus cases and a U.S. warning
of an inevitable pandemic heightened worries of a global
economic slowdown.
    China and South Korea reported 500 new cases, while the
United States alerted Americans on Tuesday to begin preparing
for coronavirus to spread within the country after infections
surfaced in several more nations.
    "We are now in an early stage of the virus spread in some
developed countries, which is concerning because it could dent
investments and consumer sentiment," said Margaret Yang Yan,
market analyst at CMC Markets Singapore.
    The South Korean won dropped 0.4% against the
dollar, hitting its lowest in more than two months, as sentiment
remained fragile after the country reported 169 new coronavirus
    South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday called the
situation "very grave" and said the coming week would be key in
the battle to contain the virus.
    The Thai baht weakened 0.4% against the dollar. An
investor darling in 2019, the baht has seen a sharp reversal of
fortune and become Asia's worst performing currency so far this
    The Indonesian rupiah fell 0.3%, its biggest intraday
drop in more than a month. 
    Indonesia's finance minister warned the virus outbreak could
pressure tax collection and widen the fiscal deficit this year,
a day after the government unveiled a nearly $750 million
stimulus package to protect the economy.
    The Chinese yuan eased 0.1%, while the Philippine
peso edged higher.
    The Taiwan dollar rose 0.2% and was among the few
outliers, a day after the parliament approved a $2 billion
package to help cushion the impact from the outbreak.

    The ringgit weakened as much as 0.2% to 4.241 per
dollar as traders kept a close watch on political developments
while awaiting a stimulus package to soften the economic fallout
from the epidemic.
    Malaysia's king met parliamentarians for a second day to try
to end political turmoil by finding someone able to form a
government or by calling a new election after Mahathir Mohamad's
shock resignation as prime minister.
    "The ringgit on trade weighted basis may consolidate around
current levels until we see further developments on the
government and assistance package to deal with Covid-19," said
Chu Kok Wei, group head, treasury and markets, CIMB Group.
    Mahathir said an economic stimulus package would be
announced soon. He had been due to unveil the package on
Thursday, but it was postponed to an unspecified date shortly
after his resignation on Monday.
 Change on the day at   0540 GMT                  
 Currency               Latest bid  Previous day  Pct Move
 Japan yen              110.370     110.18        -0.17
 Sing dlr               1.398       1.3985        +0.02
 Taiwan dlr             30.338      30.402        +0.21
 Korean won             1215.400    1210.3        -0.42
 Baht                   31.860      31.72         -0.44
 Peso                   51.050      51.09         +0.08
 Rupiah                 13910.000   13870         -0.29
 Rupee                  71.760      71.73         -0.04
 Ringgit                4.236       4.232         -0.09
 Yuan                   7.018       7.0130        -0.07
 Change so far in 2020                            
 Currency               Latest bid  End 2019      Pct Move
 Japan yen              110.370     108.61        -1.59
 Sing dlr               1.398       1.3444        -3.85
 Taiwan dlr             30.338      30.106        -0.76
 Korean won             1215.400    1156.40       -4.85
 Baht                   31.860      29.91         -6.12
 Peso                   51.050      50.65         -0.78
 Rupiah                 13910.000   13880         -0.22
 Rupee                  71.760      71.38         -0.53
 Ringgit                4.236       4.0890        -3.47
 Yuan                   7.018       6.9632        -0.78

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