December 19, 2019 / 6:35 AM / a month ago

EM ASIA FX-S. Korean won scales 1-month peak; most others in holiday mood

    * S. Korean won leads gains
    * Indonesian rupiah dips ahead of c.bank meeting 
    * 'No clear sense of direction in the market' - analyst 

 (Adds text, updates prices)
    By Shriya Ramakrishnan
    Dec 19 (Reuters) - The South Korean won led gains among
Asian currencies on Thursday, buoyed by the government's plans
to boost the economy and an improved outlook for the electronics
sector, while most others were little changed ahead of the
holiday season.
    The won strengthened 0.4% against the greenback,
making it the top performer in the day.
    South Korea cut its 2020 economic growth forecasts, but
pledged more fiscal spending and tax support to revive the
economy. The finance ministry also noted that global research
agencies had forecast that prices of computer memory chips, the
country's top export item, would pick up next year.
    "The semiconductor industry was supposed to see a bottoming
in the second half of this year....it was ofcourse hijacked by a
blowup of tensions between U.S.-China on the tech front, and the
Japan-Korea tensions didn't help so it became a supply side
issue," said Vishnu Varathan, a senior economist at Mizuho Bank.
    "So far that they are able to get past that, then there
could be a case for a gradual and modest recovery in demand
rather than a continued slump."
    The Taiwan dollar, which also stands to highly
benefit from an improvement in global demand for electronics,
gained 0.2% to the dollar. 
    Taiwan's central bank is likely to leave its policy rate
steady later in the day, due to an improvement in the export
outlook despite a protracted U.S.-China trade war, a Reuters
poll showed.
    Meanwhile, most other Asian currencies in the region were
languid ahead of the holiday season, barely reacting to U.S.
President Donald Trump's impeachment. 
    "I think if anything really hits us in the face today is the
conspicuous lack of direction and perhaps interest in some of
the things that have been going on," Varathan said, adding that
markets seem to be in a comfortable place and would not want to
get anymore ahead with it. 
    The Indonesian rupiah edged lower, with focus locked
on to Bank Indonesia's policy meeting later in the day, where it
is expected to keep policy rates steady after a 100 basis point
cut so far.
    The Chinese yuan firmed 0.1%, while the Thai baht
 was flat. 
    Thailand's central bank left its key rate unchanged at a
record low on Wednesday, while it cut its growth forecasts for
this year and next as exports take a hit from the Sino-U.S.
trade war and a strong baht.
    
    
    CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR
    
 Change on the day at   0608 GMT                  
 Currency               Latest bid  Previous day  Pct Move
 Japan yen              109.560     109.53        -0.03
 Sing dlr               1.355       1.3551        +0.01
 Taiwan dlr             30.169      30.233        +0.21
 Korean won             1164.300    1168.8        +0.39
 Baht                   30.200      30.205        +0.02
 Peso                   50.610      50.65         +0.08
 Rupiah                 13985.000   13970         -0.11
 Rupee                  70.880      70.97         +0.13
 Ringgit                4.138       4.137         -0.02
 Yuan                   7.001       7.0055        +0.07
                                                  
 Change so far in 2019                            
 Currency               Latest bid  End 2018      Pct Move
 Japan yen              109.560     109.56        +0.00
 Sing dlr               1.355       1.3627        +0.57
 Taiwan dlr             30.169      30.733        +1.87
 Korean won             1164.300    1115.70       -4.17
 Baht                   30.200      32.55         +7.78
 Peso                   50.610      52.47         +3.68
 Rupiah                 13985.000   14375         +2.79
 Rupee                  70.880      69.77         -1.57
 Ringgit                4.138       4.1300        -0.19
 Yuan                   7.001       6.8730        -1.82
 
    
    
     

 (Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by
Rashmi Aich)
  
 
 
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