March 2, 2018 / 6:02 AM / 5 months ago

EM ASIA FX-Most emerging Asian currencies edge up as dollar slips

    * Malaysia's ringgit biggest boost among Asian FX
    * Thai baht slips to one-week low 

 (Adds text, updates prices)
    By Christina Martin
    March 2 - Most emerging currencies edged higher on Friday as
the dollar pulled sharply back from six-week highs after U.S.
President Donald Trump's imposed tariffs on steel and aluminium,
sparking fears of a global ttrade war.
    The dollar index against a basket of six major
currencies fell 0.2 percent to 90.185.
    The Trump administration said the tariffs would protect U.S.
industry, but the dollar and Wall Street shares slumped as the
plan sparked fears of retaliatory trade measures and worries
about its potentially negative impact on the U.S. economy.

    "Trade protectionism concerns, especially if retaliatory
moves ensue, are expected to continue to circulate in the coming
session, with the initial kneejerk reaction to take the dollar
lower," said Emmanuel Ng, FX strategist at Oversea-Chinese
Banking Corporation Ltd.
    "In such an environment, we expect risk premiums to widen
and emerging Asia to bear the brunt. Asian FX also have very
little in terms of a backstop at this juncture, given that net
portfolio inflows of late have been uninspiring."
    Among Asian currencies, the Malaysian ringgit saw the
biggest boost, gaining as much as 0.4 percent, snapping three
straight sessions of losses. 
    The Korean won edged up 0.2 percent, but was on
track to end lower for a second straight week.
    The Chinese yuan, the Taiwan dollar and
the Singapore dollar all inched up about 0.1 percent. 
    The Indonesian rupiah and the Philippine peso
 traded flat, while Indian markets were closed for a
    Yuan traders said Trump's tariff decision would be the key
market focus in the near term, but the details and potential
impact were still too unclear to heavily affect trade on Friday.
    The Chinese currency looked set for a losing week.
    Prior to market opening, the People's Bank of China set the
midpoint rate at 6.3334 per dollar, 18 pips firmer
than the previous fix of 6.3352.
    In the spot market, the onshore yuan opened at
6.3344 per dollar and eased to a low of 6.3622 before recovering
slightly to 6.3534 at midday. 
    The Thai baht slipped as much as 0.4 percent to a
one-week low, making it the only currency to fall in the day. 
    Thailand's headline inflation rate eased in February,
missing forecasts and keeping below the central bank's goal,
giving policymakers leeway to keep monetary policy loose to aid
economic growth.
    The Bank of Thailand has kept its policy interest rate
steady at 1.50 percent, near record lows, since April 2015.
    The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against
the dollar at 0545 GMT.
 Currency        Latest bid  Previous day  Pct Move
 Japan yen       106.090     106.23        +0.13
 Sing dlr        1.322       1.3227        +0.08
 Taiwan dlr      29.292      29.318        +0.09
 Korean won      1080.900    1082.8        +0.18
 Baht            31.470      31.38         -0.29
 Peso            51.920      51.92         +0.00
 Rupiah          13750.000   13745         -0.04
 Ringgit         3.915       3.927         +0.32
 Yuan            6.351       6.3575        +0.10
 Change in 2018                            
 Currency        Latest bid  End 2017      Pct Move
 Japan yen       106.090     112.67        +6.20
 Sing dlr        1.322       1.3373        +1.18
 Taiwan dlr      29.292      29.848        +1.90
 Korean won      1080.900    1070.50       -0.96
 Baht            31.470      32.58         +3.53
 Peso            51.920      49.93         -3.83
 Rupiah          13750.000   13565         -1.35
 Ringgit         3.915       4.0440        +3.31
 Yuan            6.351       6.5069        +2.45

 (Reporting By Christina Martin in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim
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