March 23, 2020 / 7:14 AM / 16 days ago

EM ASIA FX-Most currencies slump amid global dash for U.S. dollar

    * Indian rupee plunges to all-time low against dollar
    * Onshore Indonesian rupiah sinks to lowest since 1998
    * Ringgit poised for eighth straight session of declines 

 (Adds text, updates prices)
    By Shriya Ramakrishnan
    March 23 (Reuters) - Most emerging Asian currencies fell
sharply on Monday, with the Indian rupee sinking to an all-time
low, as investors continued hoarding dollars in a bid to stay
liquid amid a worsening coronavirus epidemic.
    A rising tide of national lockdowns and restrictions on
travel and daily life has heightened fears of a deep recession,
overshadowing efforts by policymakers to soften the blow.
    Despite recent easing measures by the U.S. Federal Reserve,
the dollar has maintained its strength as the uncertainty around
the virus spread and its impact has accelerated the flight to
cash and pushed investors to liquidate holdings across asset
classes.
    "We need to see clear signs of government actions around the
world to flatten out the infections curve, make tests available
on a mass scale, and offer reliable data which shows signs of
slowing infection rate. Till then the liquidation wave is likely
to continue," said Mahesh Sethuraman, deputy head of global
sales trading at Saxo Capital Markets.
    Among Asian currencies, the Indian rupee plunged
1.3% to a record low of 76.14 per dollar, in line with a rout in
the domestic equity market.
    Several Indian states have imposed lockdowns until the end
of March, while experts have said the number of cases mirrors
rates during the early stages of the outbreak in other
countries, which then went on to see very rapid growth.

    The South Korean won shed 1.5%, while the
Singapore dollar slid 0.7% to 1.459, its weakest since
July 2009.
    An unexpected rate cut by the Bank of Thailand at a special
policy meeting over the weekend weighed on the baht,
with the currency declining 1.4% to its weakest since November
2018. 
    The Malaysian ringgit slipped for an eighth straight
session, declining 0.3% to a three-year low amid a two-week
partial lockdown in the country. 
    Malaysia deployed its army to enforce the curb on travel,
while its prime minister said the government might consider
extending movement restrictions by up to two weeks.
    
    RUPIAH CONTINUES DOWNWARD SPIRAL    
    The onshore Indonesian rupiah sank to its weakest
since the depths of the Asian financial crisis in June 1998. 
    Jakarta's governor on Friday declared a state of emergency
for the next two weeks, while health experts have warned that
Southeast Asia's largest economy likely faces a surge in virus
cases.
    "Indonesia was always going to be more susceptible in the
scramble for USD liquidity as the unwind of carry trades has
resulted in a dramatic weakness in IDR and with the current
account deficit already at worrying levels, the situation will
only get worse," Saxo Capital's Sethuraman said. 
    Foreigners had sold $4.8 million worth of Indonesian
government bonds this month by March 18, according to finance
ministry data.

   
    CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR
    
  Change on the day at                                       
        0627 GMT                                  
  Currency                 Latest bid   Previous     Pct Move
                                             day  
  Japan yen              109.660           110.8        +1.04
  Sing dlr               1.452            1.4491        -0.23
  Taiwan dlr             30.358           30.302        -0.18
  Korean won             1266.000         1246.5        -1.54
  Baht                   32.925            32.58        -1.05
  Peso                   51.320            51.19        -0.25
  Rupiah                 16550.000         15900        -3.93
  Rupee                  75.950            75.18        -1.01
  Ringgit                4.430            4.4279        -0.05
  Yuan                   7.095            7.0970        +0.02
                                                             
  Change so far in 2020                                      
  Currency               Latest bid    End 2019      Pct Move
  Japan yen              109.660          108.61        -0.96
  Sing dlr               1.452            1.3444        -7.44
  Taiwan dlr             30.358           30.106        -0.83
  Korean won             1266.000        1156.40        -8.66
  Baht                   32.925            29.91        -9.16
  Peso                   51.320            50.65        -1.31
  Rupiah                 16550.000         13880       -16.13
  Rupee                  75.950            71.38        -6.02
  Ringgit                4.430            4.0890        -7.70
  Yuan                   7.095            6.9632        -1.86
 
    

 (Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Additional
reporting by Gaurav Dogra; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)
  
 
 
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