SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Long positions in the Chinese yuan hit their lowest level in more than four months with sentiment more bearish on most emerging Asian currencies, a Reuters poll showed on Thursday, as investors avoided risky assets.
The yuan’s bullish bets fell to their lowest since mid-September, the survey of 12 participants including analysts and traders showed.
The yuan, or renminbi, hit its weakest level of the year earlier on Thursday amid softening demand ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays.
Sentiment on the rupee turned bearish with the currency seeing the first short positions in more than two months.
On Monday, the rupee fell to its lowest since mid-November due to the emerging market rout, although it recovered some losses after the central bank’s unexpected rate hike the day after.
Short positions in the Taiwan dollar hit the largest level since mid-April as traders said the island’s foreign exchange authority had been spotted intervening to prevent the currency from outpacing the South Korean won.
Sentiment on the won has turned almost neutral.
The Thai baht’s short positions rose slightly as the government pushed ahead with a general election on Sunday despite warnings it could end in violence.
Emerging Asian currencies were set to see monthly losses as the U.S. Federal Reserve reduced its monthly bond-buying programme by another $10 billion and on a slowing Chinese economy.
Investors stayed wary of a further sell-off in assets in other emerging markets such as Latin America.
Reflecting such worries, short positions in the Singapore dollar fell as the currency was seen to be relatively safer within Asia due to the city-state’s triple-A credit ratings.
The Reuters survey is focused on what analysts believe are the current market positions in nine Asian emerging market currencies: Chinese yuan, South Korean won, Singapore dollar, Indonesian rupiah, Taiwan dollar, rupee, Philippine peso, Malaysian ringgit and the Thai baht.
The poll uses estimates of net long or short positions on a scale of minus 3 to plus 3.
A score of plus 3 indicates the market is significantly long U.S. dollars. The figures included positions held through non-deliverable forwards (NDFs).
Additional reporting by Sumanta Dey in BANGALORE; Editing by Jacqueline Wong