March 14, 2018 / 6:01 AM / 6 days ago

EM ASIA FX-Rise on dollar weakness following Tillerson departure; S. Korean won leads

    * Rise largely on dollar weakness
    * Thai baht at over 4-yr high
    * Indian rupee, Philippine peso fall

 (Adds text, updates prices)
    By Ambar Warrick
    March 14 (Reuters) - The South Korean won led gains as most
Asian currencies rose against the dollar on Wednesday, with the
departure of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, coupled with
benign inflation data, pulling the carpet out from under the
    U.S. President Donald Trump fired Tillerson on Tuesday,
replacing his chief diplomat with loyalist CIA Director Mike
Pompeo, marking the departure of yet another moderate from the
White House.
    The dollar retreated following the announcement, over fears
that the move may sow further turmoil in the already tumultuous
Trump administration. It was also stung by inflation data that
matched low expectations, affirming the possibility of only
three Fed rate hikes for the year.
    "I think Asian currencies are still tracking what's broadly
happening to the dollar, which was softer on the back of the
secretary of state announcement," said Khoon Goh, head of Asia
research at ANZ Banking Group (Singapore). 
    "Now that inflation numbers from the U.S. are out, the focus
is very much on the Fed meeting next week. The rate hike is
fully priced, but more important is whether the Fed might raise
its outlook to four hikes for the year."
    Regionally, The South Korean won led gains and
rose about 0.37 percent.
    South Korea's finance minister said the lack of jobs growth
was the country's biggest economic issue, after data showed 
unemployment went unchanged in February.
    The Thai Baht rose about 0.3 percent to highs
versus the dollar not seen in more than four years. 
    The Chinese yuan rose about 0.1 percent on the
dollar after news of better than expected industrial output in
the first two months of the year.
    However, gains were capped by the prospect of steep tariffs
on goods exported from China to the United States, particularly
in the technology and telecommunications sectors.
    The Indian rupee bucked the trend, falling as much
as 0.25 percent to the dollar. 
    The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) barred all lenders from
issuing letters of undertaking - a form of credit guarantee at
the heart of a major fraud - as embattled Punjab National Bank
 disclosed its total exposure in the case had risen by
another $145 million.
    " The market is just reacting to the news of the RBI banning
a key financing tool, which has seen demand for the dollar rise
onshore," Goh said.
    The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against
the dollar on Wednesday.
 Change on the day as at 0551 GMT                       
 Currency                     Latest bid  Previous day  Pct Move
 Japan yen                    106.410     106.56        +0.14
 Sing dlr                     1.310       1.3118        +0.15
 Taiwan dlr                   29.241      29.252        +0.04
 Korean won                   1063.600    1067.5        +0.37
 Baht                         31.140      31.24         +0.32
 Peso                         52.050      52.04         -0.02
 Rupiah                       13725.000   13746         +0.15
 Rupee                        64.980      64.89         -0.14
 Ringgit                      3.894       3.8985        +0.12
 Yuan                         6.316       6.3240        +0.12
 Change so far                                          
 Currency                     Latest bid  End 2017      Pct Move
 Japan yen                    106.410     112.67        +5.88
 Sing dlr                     1.310       1.3373        +2.09
 Taiwan dlr                   29.241      29.848        +2.08
 Korean won                   1063.600    1070.50       +0.65
 Baht                         31.140      32.58         +4.62
 Peso                         52.050      49.93         -4.07
 Rupiah                       13725.000   13565         -1.17
 Rupee                        64.980      63.87         -1.71
 Ringgit                      3.894       4.0440        +3.85
 Yuan                         6.316       6.5069        +3.02
 (Reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Editing by Biju
Dwarakanath and Eric Meijer)
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