June 28, 2019 / 5:52 AM / in 2 months

Most Asian currencies edge up, baht is best quarterly performer

(Reuters) - Most emerging Asian currencies inched up on Friday on hopes the meeting of the presidents of China and the United States will increase risk appetites, but many traders remained cautious.

A Thai Baht note with the images of King Maha Vajiralongkorn and the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej is seen during the coronation of King Maha Vajiralongkorn in Bangkok, Thailand, May 4, 2019. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar/File Photo

The majority of regional units were set for meagre gains in the second quarter, which has seen sharp changes in appetites, hinged on developments in the Sino-U.S. trade war and broad moves toward monetary policy easing.

There’s intense interest in Saturday’s meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping for indications on whether the global economic outlook will brighten or darken.

Vishnu Varathan, senior economist at Mizuho Bank, has hopes of some upside for Asian currencies after the Osaka summit.

“To be sure, we are neither complacent about, nor comfortable with, latent downside risks to Asia/EM FX. But underlying risks to Asia FX are at least temporarily relegated to the back seat,” he said in a note.

He added that Asia FX may also be poised for some relief from lower U.S. treasury yields “inspired by ultra-dovish Fed expectations.”

The Thai baht, slated to be the best quarterly performer among Asian peers, strengthened slightly on Friday.

Thailand’s relative economic stability through the quarter, as well the Bank of Thailand’s reluctance to ease policy, has buoyed the baht, which has strengthened nearly 6 percent against the dollar this year.

Investors were awaiting May trade data later in the day from the Thai central bank, which on Wednesday cut its forecast for economic growth and predicted there will be no increase in exports this year.

The yuan inched up on a marginally firmer midpoint fix from the People’s Bank of China. Its stronger daily fixings help keep the currency from breaching the 7-to-the-dollar point.

Chinese manufacturing data for June is expected on the weekend, and will provide further clues on the effects of an extended trade war on the world’s second largest economy.

A Reuters poll expects a contraction due to weaker demand.

The Philippine peso weakened 0.18% for the day, while the Indian rupee strengthened a little.

QUARTERLY MOVERS AND SHAKERS

The Thai baht was set to gain around 3% for the April-June quarter while the yuan was set to lose more than 2% and be the worst quarterly performer.

The Philippine peso was on track to gain about 2.8% for the quarter, with healthy inflation in the country providing some support. The country’s central bank held its benchmark interest rate earlier in June.

The South Korean won and the Taiwan dollar were set to lose about 2% and 0.7%, respectively, for the quarter, as ructions in the global technology sector pointed to further pressure on the tech-oriented economies of the two.

The two currencies are the worst performers in 2019, among their peers.

Reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Borsuk

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