December 26, 2018 / 6:02 AM / 24 days ago

Most Asian currencies shaky as growth concerns, U.S. politics dent sentiment

(Reuters) - Most Asian currencies were little changed on Wednesday as they rolled into the year-end in a shabby state, with global growth risks and political uncertainty in the United States leaving little chance of a strong near-term recovery.

A man counts currency notes inside a shop in Mumbai, August 13, 2018. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

The likelihood of a prolonged partial U.S. government shutdown and President Donald Trump’s scathing criticism of the Federal Reserve’s steady rate increases drove investors away from risk-sensitive assets.

Qi Gao, Asia FX strategist at Scotiabank in Singapore, said investors were cautious after Trump’s latest broadside against the Fed and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s move to convene a crisis group in an attempt to calm investors in the wake of big stock market losses.

Many of the regional currencies hugged tight ranges, reflecting a combination of low year-end volumes and reluctance to make big bets in the face of deepening gloom over global growth, trade and investment.

The bitter Sino-U.S. trade war has also taken the sheen away from currencies of export-dependent economies such as Taiwan and South Korea. All of this as well as capital-outflow fears have left a majority of the regional units carrying sizable losses into the year-end.

The Singapore dollar and Malaysian ringgit both firmed 0.1 percent, while the Korean won was flat.

The Indian rupee advanced as much as 0.5 percent and was the best performer after a more than 6 percent plunge in oil prices on Wednesday - a boon to India’s economy which is a net oil importer.

“We remain bullish on the rupee in the current stage not only because of oil prices but also because of RBI’s (Reserve Bank of India) open market operations that inject additional liquidity,” Gao said.

Elsewhere, the Indonesia rupiah slid 0.3 percent, the most among regional currencies. The rupiah has managed to cut some of the heavy losses suffered this year, thanks to Bank Indonesia’s aggressive monetary policy tightening, plunging oil prices and a softening outlook for the U.S. Federal Reserve’s tightening path.

The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against the dollar at 0447 GMT.

CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR

Currency Latest bid Previous day Pct Move

Japan yen 110.400 110.27 -0.12

Sing dlr 1.371 1.3725 +0.09

Taiwan dlr 30.801 30.810 +0.03

Korean won 1125.100 1125.2 +0.01

Baht 32.560 32.58 +0.06

Peso 52.980 52.965 -0.03

Rupiah 14590.000 14550 -0.27

Rupee 69.963 70.14 +0.25

Ringgit 4.178 4.183 +0.12

Yuan 6.889 6.8863 -0.04

Change so far in 2018

Currency Latest bid End 2017 Pct Move

Japan yen 110.400 112.67 +2.06

Sing dlr 1.371 1.3373 -2.47

Taiwan dlr 30.801 29.848 -3.09

Korean won 1125.100 1070.50 -4.85

Baht 32.560 32.58 +0.06

Peso 52.980 49.93 -5.76

Rupiah 14590.000 13565 -7.03

Rupee 69.963 63.87 -8.71

Ringgit 4.178 4.0440 -3.21

Yuan 6.889 6.5069 -5.55

Reporting by Aditya Soni in Bengaluru

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