January 6, 2020 / 5:40 AM / 12 days ago

EM ASIA FX-Most currencies under pressure on rising U.S.-Iran tensions

    * Oil price hike weakens Indian rupee, Indonesian rupiah
    * Rupee hits worst level in more than 7 weeks
    * Indonesian rupiah down to over 1-week low

 (Adds text, updates prices)
    By Aby Jose Koilparambil
    Jan 6 (Reuters) - Most Asian currencies weakened on Monday
as risk appetite in the region was dented further, with
heightened tensions between the United States and Iran sending
crude oil and safe-haven gold prices higher.
    The U.S. and Iran are locked in a war of words, exchanging
threats of attacks on each other and stoking concerns of an
extended conflict, after a top Iranian military commander was
killed in Iraq by an American drone strike on Friday.

    Oil prices have surged more than 2%, sending Brent futures
above the $70 per barrel mark, following a 3% rise on Friday,
after the killing of the Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani and
the ensuing rise in tensions. 
    "The Middle East tensions have led Brent crude prices
towards $70/bbl, up from just above $60 a month ago... The last
thing markets want is a move from a tit-for-tat (Sino-U.S.)
tariff war to sabre-rattling in the Gulf," said DBS Group
Research analysts in a note.
    The currencies of India and Indonesia - two major Asian
economies exposed to the impact of oil imports on their current
account deficit - wilted under pressure.
    The Indian rupee weakened as much as 0.4% to its
worst level in more than seven weeks, while the Indonesian
rupiah fell about 0.3% to a one-week low of 13,920
against the dollar.
    Also, Indonesia's central bank intervened in the spot
currency, domestic non-deliverable forward (DNDF) and bond
markets to stabilise movements, the head of its monetary
management, told Reuters.
    "The key question is whether the oil market would be able to
absorb any potential supply losses, and the simple answer is
that it will obviously depend on the scale of any disruptions,"
ING analysts wrote in a note.
    The Malaysian ringgit, the Philippine peso
and the Korean won weakened about 0.2% each, while
the Singapore dollar fell slightly.  
    The weakness in the Chinese yuan was relatively
marginal - a drop of about 0.1% -  even as investors await more
concrete details of the first phase of the Sino-U.S. trade deal,
scheduled for mid-month.
    Meanwhile, the Taiwan dollar and the Thai baht
 strengthened marginally. 
    
    CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR
 Change on the day at   0512 GMT                  
 Currency               Latest bid  Previous day  Pct Move
 Japan yen              108.040     108.08        +0.04
 Sing dlr               1.350       1.3496        -0.01
 Taiwan dlr             30.080      30.105        +0.08
 Korean won             1168.800    1167.1        -0.15
 Baht                   30.130      30.14         +0.03
 Peso                   51.190      51.1          -0.18
 Rupiah                 13955.000   13920         -0.25
 Rupee                  72.020      71.80         -0.31
 Ringgit                4.107       4.1005        -0.15
 Yuan                   6.971       6.9650        -0.09
                                                  
 Change so far in 2020                            
 Currency               Latest bid  End 2019      Pct Move
 Japan yen              108.040     108.61        +0.53
 Sing dlr               1.350       1.3444        -0.39
 Taiwan dlr             30.080      30.106        +0.09
 Korean won             1168.800    1156.40       -1.06
 Baht                   30.130      29.91         -0.73
 Peso                   51.190      50.65         -1.05
 Rupiah                 13955.000   13880         -0.54
 Rupee                  72.020      71.38         -0.89
 Ringgit                4.107       4.0890        -0.43
 Yuan                   6.971       6.9632        -0.12
 
 (Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by
Rashmi Aich)
  
 
 
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