December 5, 2017 / 7:10 AM / 6 months ago

EM ASIA FX-S. Korean won, Malaysian ringgit lead gains as dollar's ascent stalls

 (Adds text, updates prices)
    By Aaron Saldanha
    Dec 5 (Reuters) - Asian currencies firmed on Tuesday as last
week's ascent of the U.S. dollar on the back of positive tax
reform news stalled. 
    The dollar index, which measures the greenback
against a basket of six major currencies, fell about 0.04
percent to 93.147 at 0647 GMT after gaining about 0.3 percent on
    "Most of the regional currencies already weakened yesterday
in anticipation of the passage of the tax package by the Trump
administration. Right now the classic seller's syndrome has
hit...which resulted in the dollar giving up some of its gains,"
said Manny Cruz, an analyst with Asiasec Equities Inc in Manila.
    Strength in Asian currencies was broad-based with most
currencies firming against the greenback.
    Taiwan's dollar firmed 0.13 percent on Tuesday
ahead of data expected to show inflation at 0.26 percent,
according to a Reuters poll of analysts.  
    The Philippine peso firmed about 0.13 percent as
November inflation matched expectations of 3.3 percent. The
currency had eased for the previous two trading sessions against
the dollar.
    India's rupee was flat ahead of a central bank
monetary policy committee meeting due on Wednesday. 
    Meanwhile, Indonesia's rupiah and the Singapore
dollar firmed 0.06 percent and 0.04 percent,
    The South Korean won firmed 0.27 percent, the
most in Asia. Data issued on Tuesday showed South Korea's
foreign exchange reserves edged up to $387.25 billion in
November, versus $384.46 billion at the end of October. 
    A currency trader at a local bank said the won had
strengthened because exporters were switching long dollar
exposures back to won. He added that he expected the trend to
continue further into the week.
    The currency is the region's top performer against the
greenback for the year so far, firming 11.23 percent.
    China's yuan firmed 0.04 percent on Tuesday,
shrugging off a weaker midpoint and the launch of a new yuan
trading system.
    The official China Foreign Exchange Trade System (CFETS),
overseen by the People's Bank Of China (PBOC), launched a new
yuan system of matching orders for USD/CNY trades among
market-makers on Monday, in an attempt to improve efficiency.
    China's central bank set its official yuan midpoint
 at 6.6113 per dollar, lowering it for a seventh
straight trading day and marking the longest weakening run since
    The Malaysian ringgit moved closer to the
psychologically significant level of 4 ringgit to the dollar,
firming 0.15 percent to levels last seen in September, 2016.
    Malaysia is due to report trade data on Wednesday, with
economists polled by Reuters expecting the trade balance to jump
to a 10.4 billion ringgit surplus from the 8.6 billion ringgit
surplus reported for September.
    "The Malaysian Central Bank has sounded overtly hawkish of
late and appears more open to a stronger currency to ward off
potential inflation," Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific 
trading for Oanda, wrote in a note.
    "Given the market is baking in a January rate hike with a
likely Q2 or Q3 follow up, the MYR (ringgit) will become much
more sensitive to economic data for the next few months."
    The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against
the dollar at 0643 GMT.
 Change on the day at 0643 GMT                          
 Currency                     Latest bid  Previous day  Pct Move
 Japan yen                    112.64      112.4         -0.21
 Sing dlr                     1.3466      1.3472        +0.04
 Taiwan dlr                   29.996      30.036        +0.13
 Korean won                   1086        1088.7        +0.27
 Peso                         50.600      50.665        +0.13
 Rupiah                       13517       13525         +0.06
 Rupee                        64.38       64.37         -0.01
 Ringgit                      4.054       4.06          +0.15
 Yuan                         6.614       6.6166        +0.04
 Change so far in 2017                                  
 Currency                     Latest bid  End 2016      Pct Move
 Japan yen                    112.64      117.07        +3.93
 Sing dlr                     1.3466      1.4490        +7.60
 Taiwan dlr                   29.996      32.279        +7.61
 Korean won                   1086        1207.70       +11.23
 Peso                         50.600      49.72         -1.74
 Rupiah                       13517       13470         -0.35
 Rupee                        64.375      67.92         +5.51
 Ringgit                      4.054       4.4845        +10.62
 Yuan                         6.614       6.9467        +5.04
 (Reporting by Aaron Saldanha in Bengaluru; Editing by Eric
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