Edition:
India

Shriya Ramakrishnan

EM ASIA FX-Asian currencies slip as U.S. data bolsters dollar

24 Apr 2019

* South Korean won leads declines * Thai baht at over 3-month low * Malaysia's March CPI up 0.2 y/y, below forecast (Adds text, updates prices) By Shriya Ramakrishnan April 24 Most emerging Asian currencies broadly weakened on Wednesday, with the South Korean won sliding to a more than 1-1/2-year low, as robust U.S. economic data supported the greenback. The market's appetite for dollars was boosted after data on Tuesday showed sales of new U.S. single-family homes jumped to a near 1-1/2-year high in March, easing concerns of a sharp slowdown in the world's largest economy. The dollar index, a gauge of its value against a basket of six key rivals, stood at 97.660 after rising to 97.777 overnight, hovering near a 22-month peak. Leading declines in the region, the South Korean won depreciated 0.6 percent to 1,149.20 per dollar, in tandem with the domestic equity benchmark index. Asia's fourth-largest economy is due to release first quarter growth figures on Thursday, which is expected to have slowed to its weakest pace in more than a year, a Reuters poll showed, as it continues to grapple with sluggish exports and muted inflation. Among other regional players, the Thai baht weakened as much as 0.4 percent to 32.045 per dollar, touching its weakest point since Jan. 9, while the Indian rupee eased 0.3 percent. The baht, which began the year on a strong footing and outperformed most of its regional peers has weakened 0.9 percent so far this month, amid continuing uncertainty surrounding its election at the end of March. Final results of the Thai election will be announced on May 9. The Malaysian ringgit declined 0.2 percent after data showed consumer prices in March rose 0.2 percent from a year earlier, below analyst forecasts for 0.3 percent growth. The index was negative in January and February. Meanwhile, the Chinese yuan edged higher and was the sole outlier on the day bolstered by improving views of the world's second-largest economy as the government maintained targeted policy support. China's central bank extended 267.4 billion yuan ($39.8 billion) to some commercial banks on Wednesday via its targeted medium-term lending facility to ensure struggling smaller companies will have continued access to affordable financing. However, the central bank put the lending facility's one-year interest rate at 3.15 percent, the same as the previous operation. RUPIAH DIPS The Indonesian rupiah weakened 0.3 percent, ahead of the central bank meeting on Thursday, where it is expected to keep rates on hold. Bank Indonesia (BI) governor Perry Warjiyo said on Tuesday that policies will be maintained towards controlling the country's widening current account deficit and keeping its financial assets attractive for investors. "Given that pressures to the rupiah have eased and inflation has slowed to the weakest level since 2000, the only factor that needs to be watched further are the trade balance and current account," DBS Bank said in a note. Southeast Asia's largest economy had resorted to the most rigorous rate hike cycle last year to defend the rupiah amid pressure from rising U.S. interest rates and foreign outflows. The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against the dollar at 0518 GMT. CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR Currency Latest bid Previous day Pct Move Japan yen 111.820 111.86 +0.04 Sing dlr 1.359 1.3566 -0.19 Taiwan dlr 30.864 30.858 -0.02 Korean won 1149.200 1141.8 -0.64 Baht 32.010 31.93 -0.25 Peso 52.180 52.06 -0.23 Rupiah 14105.000 14070 -0.25 Rupee 69.845 69.62 -0.32 Ringgit 4.131 4.125 -0.15 Yuan 6.723 6.7278 +0.08 Change so far in 2019 Currency Latest bid End 2018 Pct Move Japan yen 111.820 109.56 -2.02 Sing dlr 1.359 1.3627 +0.26 Taiwan dlr 30.864 30.733 -0.42 Korean won 1149.200 1115.70 -2.92 Baht 32.010 32.55 +1.69 Peso 52.180 52.47 +0.56 Rupiah 14105.000 14375 +1.91 Rupee 69.845 69.77 -0.11 Ringgit 4.131 4.1300 -0.02 Yuan 6.723 6.8730 +2.24 ($1 = 1,148.9500 won) (Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

EM ASIA FX-High oil prices hit some Asian currencies, others eke out gains

23 Apr 2019

* Oil prices near 2019 highs * Rupiah, rupee weaken for a second session * Singapore March core inflation eases to 1.4 pct (Adds text, updates prices) By Shriya Ramakrishnan April 23 The currencies of Indonesia and India fell on Tuesday, as the two countries face higher oil import bills due to global energy market developments, while most other regional ones eked out tiny gains. Oil prices rallied after the United States on Monday demanded that buyers of Iranian oil stop purchases by May 1 or face sanctions, ending six months of waivers that allowed Iran's eight biggest buyers to continue importing limited volumes. The Indonesian rupiah and the Indian rupee led declines in the region, weakening between 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively. India's central bank will conduct its second dollar-rupee swap auction of $5 billion on Tuesday, following a round last month in a bid to boost liquidity and prevent a sharp appreciation in the rupee. In Indonesia, Southeast Asia's largest economy, market focus will be on Thursday's central bank meeting, which is widely expected to keep rates on hold. Some analysts expect multiple rate cuts later this year. The Malaysian ringgit was marginally higher, ahead of March inflation data on Wednesday. Malaysia's consumer prices are expected to edge up in March, following two months of deflation, according to a Reuters poll. The consumer price index turned negative in January for the first time since November 2009 amid a sharp drop in retail fuel costs. However, the central bank expects inflation to be higher on average this year after benign cost pressures in 2018. The Malaysian central bank and securities commission said on Tuesday that the country's financial markets have remained resilient with support from ample domestic liquidity and strong fundamentals. The joint statement followed one last week's from FTSE Russell, a global bond index provider, that it could drop Malaysia from the FTSE World Government Bond Index over concerns about market accessibility and liquidity. The Philippines suspended foreign exchange trading and a treasury bond auction on Tuesday due to the impact of Monday's 6.1 magnitude earthquake that hit the main island of Luzon, causing disruption in Manila and nearby provinces. The Philippine peso was flat in light offshore trading. SINGAPORE INFLATION IN FOCUS The Singapore dollar edged lower after data issued on Tuesday showed that core inflation in March was below expectations, easing to its lowest level in almost a year. "Given the fact that the Monetary Authority of Singapore has ended the tightening cycle, there is not a lot of expectations for change in monetary policy in the near to midterm," said Margaret Yang Yan, a market analyst at CMC Markets Singapore. Earlier this month, Singapore revised down its 2019 core inflation and kept monetary settings unchanged after two consecutive rounds of tightening as policymakers expect slower growth and inflation in the city-state in the face of 'significant' global economic risks. The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against the dollar at 0554 GMT. CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR Change on the day at 0554 GMT Currency Latest bid Previous day Pct Move Japan yen 111.900 111.93 +0.03 Sing dlr 1.356 1.3559 -0.02 Taiwan dlr 30.846 30.856 +0.03 Korean won 1141.800 1141.5 -0.03 Baht 31.890 31.86 -0.09 Peso 52.010 52.01 +0.00 Rupiah 14080.000 14070 -0.07 Rupee 69.788 69.67 -0.17 Ringgit 4.126 4.13 +0.10 Yuan 6.715 6.7122 -0.05 Change so far in 2019 Currency Latest bid End 2018 Pct Move Japan yen 111.900 109.56 -2.09 Sing dlr 1.356 1.3627 +0.48 Taiwan dlr 30.846 30.733 -0.37 Korean won 1141.800 1115.70 -2.29 Baht 31.890 32.55 +2.07 Peso 52.010 52.47 +0.88 Rupiah 14080.000 14375 +2.10 Rupee 69.788 69.77 -0.03 Ringgit 4.126 4.1300 +0.10 Yuan 6.715 6.8730 +2.35 (Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Borsuk)

EM ASIA FX-Asian currencies slip on higher oil prices

22 Apr 2019

* Philippine peso top decliner in the region * Indian rupee at over 1-month low * Thai March exports fall 4.88 pct y/y (Adds text, updates prices) By Shriya Ramakrishnan April 22 Emerging Asian currencies faltered on Monday after a rally in oil prices dented sentiment for the region's net importers, with the Philippine peso weakening to its lowest level in nearly two weeks. Oil prices jumped to their highest since late 2018 on news the United States is likely to ask all importers of Iranian oil to end their purchases or face U.S. sanctions. A source confirmed to Reuters a report by the Washington Post that the administration will terminate the sanctions waivers it granted to some importers of Iranian oil late last year. In November, the U.S. reimposed sanctions on exports of Iranian oil after President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of a 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and six world powers. China, India, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan were among the eight main buyers of Iranian oil that were granted waivers to the sanctions that allowed them limited purchases for six months. The Indian rupee weakened 0.5 percent to 69.73 against dollar, touching its weakest point since March 11, while the Philippine peso traded 0.7 percent lower. The Thai baht eased 0.2 percent, after data showed the country's customs-cleared exports fell 4.88 percent in March, after unexpectedly increasing in February, due to falling shipments of electronics - a key driver of Thai growth. Thailand's central bank governor said that economic growth for the year should be on track if the next government can be formed by June. The outcome of Thailand's first elections since a 2014 coup remains uncertain, and might not be known until after official results are due on May 9. The Taiwan dollar was largely flat, ahead of export orders data for March. A Reuters poll showed that Taiwan's export orders likely declined for a fifth month in March, as a prolonged downturn in global tech demand has hurt manufacturers in the trade-reliant economy. S. KOREAN WON PRESSURED Dismal trade data and fears of tension in the Korean peninsula weighed on the won on Monday, pulling it down 0.5 percent to 1,142.70 against the dollar. Trade data released earlier in the session showed the country's exports for the first 20 days of April shrank 8.7 percent from a year earlier. "The South Korean won could see more selling on increased geopolitical risks, as North Korea rejects further negotiations with U.S. Secretary of State (Mike) Pompeo, and even conducted a new tactical guided weapon test," Mizuho Bank said in a note. Pompeo said on Friday that diplomatic efforts will continue toward the goal of denuclearization of North Korea, a day after a North Korean official said it no longer wanted to deal with him in talks. The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against the dollar at 0526 GMT. CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR Currency Latest bid Previous day Pct Move Japan yen 111.930 111.91 -0.02 Sing dlr 1.356 1.3549 -0.11 Taiwan dlr 30.851 30.842 -0.03 Korean won 1142.700 1136.9 -0.51 Baht 31.880 31.82 -0.19 Peso 52.040 51.67 -0.71 Rupiah 14085.000 14040 -0.32 Rupee 69.730 69.36 -0.54 Ringgit 4.135 4.13 -0.12 Yuan 6.713 6.7049 -0.12 Change so far in 2019 Currency Latest bid End 2018 Pct Move Japan yen 111.930 109.56 -2.12 Sing dlr 1.356 1.3627 +0.46 Taiwan dlr 30.851 30.733 -0.38 Korean won 1142.700 1115.70 -2.36 Baht 31.880 32.55 +2.10 Peso 52.040 52.47 +0.83 Rupiah 14085.000 14375 +2.06 Rupee 69.730 69.77 +0.06 Ringgit 4.135 4.1300 -0.12 Yuan 6.713 6.8730 +2.39 (Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

REFILE-EM ASIA FX-Indonesia's rupiah rallies as Jokowi poised for re-election; others muted

18 Apr 2019

(Adds dropped name in paragraph 8) * Indonesian rupiah hits over 1-month high * South Korea's c.bank cuts 2019 growth forecast * Malaysian ringgit weakens for third straight day By Shriya Ramakrishnan April 18 Indonesia's rupiah strengthened on Thursday after early election results indicated a second term for incumbent Joko Widodo, but most other Asian currencies were subdued ahead of the long Easter weekend holiday. A quick count of Wednesday's election results showed Widodo winning the popular vote with at least 54 percent, giving him a lead of around eight percentage points over former general Prabowo Subianto, who was narrowly defeated by Widodo in the last election five years ago. The rupiah appreciated as much as 0.6 percent to 13,990 against the dollar, touching its strongest level in more than a month. "Should official results confirm Jokowi's win, the rupiah should remain buoyed by expectations of policy continuity and acceleration in infrastructure spending together with further fiscal policies to tame the twin deficits," Maybank said in a note. However, reduced volatility ahead of holidays in the region kept most other Asian currencies confined to very tight trading ranges. "Investors may want to close their positions before the long weekend, so I think there could be more closing position activity rather than opening a new position," said Margaret Yang Yan, a market analyst at CMC Markets Singapore. The Thai baht weakened 0.1 percent, while the Singapore dollar edged lower. The Indian rupee which resumed trading after a public holiday, firmed 0.3 percent. Indians began voting in the second phase of general elections, in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has emerged as a frontrunner. Elections in the world's largest democracy began last week, with official results expected on May 23. The Malaysian ringgit was on track to extend declines for a third straight session, dropping 0.2 percent against the greenback. The ringgit and Malaysian bonds have weakened on worries that the country's debt may be removed from a key global bond index, which could see billions of dollars leave its shores. The Chinese yuan eased off a one-month high against the dollar, as some companies took advantage of a much stronger yuan midpoint to load up on the greenback. S.KOREA WON DIPS AFTER C.BANK CUTS GROWTH FORECAST The South Korean won eased 0.1 percent after the central bank cut its 2019 growth forecast to a seven-year low while keeping its policy rate unchanged. Bank of Korea also lowered its inflation forecast for the year down to 1.1 percent from 1.4 percent earlier, bolstering views it may cut rates soon. The downgrades come as the trade-reliant economy is facing increasing pressure from sluggish exports and a stagnant property market. A slowing global economy and abrupt end to U.S. Federal Reserve policy tightening has led to growing expectations of rate cuts or easier policy stance across Asia. CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR Change on the day at 0531 GMT Currency Latest bid Previous day Pct Move Japan yen 111.880 112.05 +0.15 Sing dlr 1.353 1.3525 -0.06 Taiwan dlr 30.845 30.848 +0.01 Korean won 1136.400 1134.8 -0.14 Baht 31.805 31.76 -0.14 Peso 51.650 51.63 -0.04 Rupiah 14035.000 14080 +0.32 Rupee 69.405 69.60 +0.28 Ringgit 4.142 4.133 -0.22 Yuan 6.692 6.6880 -0.06 Change so far in 2019 Currency Latest bid End 2018 Pct Move Japan yen 111.880 109.56 -2.07 Sing dlr 1.353 1.3627 +0.69 Taiwan dlr 30.845 30.733 -0.36 Korean won 1136.400 1115.70 -1.82 Baht 31.805 32.55 +2.34 Peso 51.650 52.47 +1.59 Rupiah 14035.000 14375 +2.42 Rupee 69.405 69.77 +0.53 Ringgit 4.142 4.1300 -0.29 Yuan 6.692 6.8730 +2.70 (Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim Coghill)

China GDP lifts yuan; ringgit eases on outflow concerns

17 Apr 2019

The yuan firmed on surprisingly solid Chinese economic growth data on Wednesday, which raised hopes of stabilisation in the world's second-largest economy, while Malaysia's ringgit weakened on rising capital outflow worries.

EM ASIA FX-Most currencies subdued, South Korean won leads declines

22 Mar 2019

* Indian rupee on track for 6th straight weekly gain * Malaysia's Feb CPI falls 0.4 pct y/y * Indonesian rupiah set to gain 0.7 pct this week (Adds text, updates prices) By Shriya Ramakrishnan March 22 Most Asian currencies were subdued on Friday as investors locked in gains from the previous session after U.S. Federal Reserve affirmed a dovish stance at its policy meeting this week. The South Korean won, which was on track to firm 0.6 percent this week, was the region's biggest loser on the day, weakening 0.3 percent against the dollar. South Korea's central bank chief said on Thursday the Fed decision to abandon any interest rate hikes this year eased uncertainties for policymakers in Seoul. But he added it was too early to discuss cutting interest rates in Asia's fourth largest economy due to the lack of clarity on Brexit and China's slowing economy. Among other currencies, Indonesia's rupiah depreciated slightly against the dollar, but was poised to record a weekly gain of 0.7 percent. Bank Indonesia kept its benchmark rate on hold on Thursday to maintain financial stability, and tweaked some rules to encourage more lending. "We expect Bank Indonesia to continue supporting IDR liquidity to cushion the banking sector from the impacts of the aggressive tightening in 2018," said Eugenia Fabon Victorino, Head of Asia Strategy at SEB Markets. The central bank said its guidance on the financing-to-funding ratio for commercial banks would move to a 84-94 percent range, from 80-92 percent, effective July 1. The Malaysian ringgit was largely unchanged after data showed the economy remained in deflation for a second straight month in February due to lower fuel prices. Bucking the trend, the Indian rupee, which resumed trading after a public holiday, strengthened up to 0.4 percent, and is on track to record its sixth straight weekly gain. "It is just playing catch-up with on-shore players getting back into the market and reacting to the Fed as the currencies did on Thursday," said Mitul Kotecha, Senior Emerging Markets Strategist at TD Securities. THE PHILIPPINE PESO The Philippine peso strengthened as much as 0.2 percent after Bangko Sentral Pilipinas (BSP) kept its benchmark interest rate steady for a third straight meeting on Thursday. The central bank also cut its average inflation forecast for this year to 3.0 percent, down from its previous forecast of 3.07 percent. BSP Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said a further cut in the amount of cash that banks must hold as reserves is always on the table, but needs careful study before an adjustment is considered. The reserve requirement for banks was cut twice last year to 18 percent. The peso is among the region's worst performers so far this year, and has weakened on the back of a cut in 2019 GDP forecast and the possibility of cuts in the reserve requirement ratio. The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against the dollar at 0529 GMT. CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR Currency Latest bid Previous day Pct Move Japan yen 110.830 110.8 -0.03 Sing dlr 1.349 1.3489 -0.02 Taiwan dlr 30.800 30.816 +0.05 Korean won 1130.600 1127.7 -0.26 Baht 31.710 31.67 -0.13 Peso 52.500 52.59 +0.17 Rupiah 14155.000 14135 -0.14 Rupee 68.610 68.82 +0.31 Ringgit 4.058 4.06 +0.05 Yuan 6.704 6.6998 -0.07 Change so far in 2019 Currency Latest bid End 2018 Pct Move Japan yen 110.830 109.56 -1.15 Sing dlr 1.349 1.3627 +1.00 Taiwan dlr 30.800 30.733 -0.22 Korean won 1130.600 1115.70 -1.32 Baht 31.710 32.55 +2.65 Peso 52.500 52.47 -0.06 Rupiah 14155.000 14375 +1.55 Rupee 68.610 69.77 +1.69 Ringgit 4.058 4.1300 +1.77 Yuan 6.704 6.8730 +2.51 (Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru, Additional reporting by Niyati Shetty; editing by Darren Schuettler)

Asian currencies gain on Fed's more cautious stance

21 Mar 2019

Emerging Asian currencies firmed on Thursday as the dollar weakened after the U.S. Federal Reserve surprised markets by bringing its three-year tightening drive to an earlier than expected end.

CORRECTED-EM ASIA FX-Most Asian units advance ahead of Fed meeting

19 Mar 2019

(Corrects 7th paragraph to say the Taiwan dollar rose as much as 0.2 percent, not fell) * Fed's two-day policy meeting starts later on Tuesday * Thai c. bank seen keeping rates on hold on Wed * Philippine peso weakens again By Shriya Ramakrishnan March 19 Most emerging Asian currencies strengthened against a weaker dollar on Tuesday, on expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will confirm a dovish stance, amid slowing global growth, at a policy meeting beginning later in the day. The Fed, which raised rates four times last year, is widely expected to keep its benchmark overnight interest rate unchanged and stick to a pledge of a "patient" approach to any further hikes. The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, hovered close to a two-week low at 96.495. The Korean won appreciated 0.1 percent to 1,1321.1 against the dollar. The Philippine peso, which weakened last week after the 2019 growth forecast was reduced and the new central bank governor flagged the possibility of cuts in the amount of cash banks must hold as reserves, slipped 0.2 percent against the dollar. "With monetary easing expected to accelerate (to boost growth) and thus interest rate support to be weaker, markets now see greater downside risks to the PHP," DBS said on Tuesday. The Taiwan dollar rose 0.2 percent before paring gains. The island's export orders, considered a leading indicator of demand for Asia's exports and hi-tech gadgets, are expected to have contracted for a fourth straight month in February, a Reuters poll showed. Data is due at 0800 GMT. The Indian rupee, which has strengthened the past six sessions, firmed as much as 0.3 percent against the dollar, touching its highest point since Aug. 2, before the day's gains were erased. The rupee has generally appreciated the past few weeks, in line with foreign inflows into Indian equities and debt markets amid expectations that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party will be re-elected in coming elections. THAI BAHT The Thai baht gained 0.1 percent to 31.68 against the dollar, ahead of a central bank policy meeting on Wednesday. The Bank of Thailand is expected to keep its benchmark policy rate steady for a second straight review after a hike in December, in a bid to support a slowing economy. In a note, Mizuho Bank said March 24 general elections "could bring the country's extant polarization of political views into relief again. The baht has now priced in a political risk premium amidst renewed tensions." The election will be the first since a military coup in 2014. The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against the dollar at 0521 GMT. CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR Currency Latest bid Previous day Pct Move Japan yen 111.260 111.42 +0.14 Sing dlr 1.350 1.3509 +0.04 Taiwan dlr 30.800 30.832 +0.10 Korean won 1130.500 1132.1 +0.14 Baht 31.640 31.68 +0.13 Peso 52.770 52.69 -0.15 Rupiah 14223.000 14235 +0.08 Rupee 68.560 68.53 -0.05 Ringgit 4.074 4.076 +0.05 Yuan 6.716 6.7135 -0.04 Change so far in 2019 Currency Latest bid End 2018 Pct Move Japan yen 111.260 109.56 -1.53 Sing dlr 1.350 1.3627 +0.91 Taiwan dlr 30.800 30.733 -0.22 Korean won 1130.500 1115.70 -1.31 Baht 31.640 32.55 +2.88 Peso 52.770 52.47 -0.57 Rupiah 14223.000 14375 +1.07 Rupee 68.560 69.77 +1.76 Ringgit 4.074 4.1300 +1.37 Yuan 6.716 6.8730 +2.34 (Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Borsuk)

EM ASIA FX-Most Asian currencies rise as U.S. data weighs on dollar

18 Mar 2019

* South Korean won leads gains * Singapore Feb exports rise 4.9 pct, rebound from multi-yr lows * Indian rupee hits more than 7-month high (Adds text, updates prices) By Shriya Ramakrishnan March 18 Most emerging Asian currencies gained on Monday against the dollar, which fell as weak U.S. economic data triggered speculation the Federal Reserve would strike a dovish tone at its policy meeting this week. Figures released on Friday showed U.S. manufacturing output fell 0.4 percent in February, weakening for a second straight month, while factory activity in New York state hit a near two-year low this month. Leading gains in the region, the South Korean won strengthened 0.5 percent to 1,137.3 against the greenback. The Fed in its two-day policy meeting on March 19 and 20 is widely expected to keep interest rates steady for the rest of the year, while many traders are even building in bets for a rate cut in 2020. The benchmark 10-year and 2-year U.S. Treasury yields fell to their lowest levels since early January, while the dollar index, a gauge of its value against a basket of six key rivals stood at 96.564, having shed 0.8 percent last week, the biggest loss since late August. The Indian rupee firmed 0.3 percent on the day, to its strongest level since Aug. 10, while the Indonesian rupiah gained 0.2 percent, as the region's net crude oil importers benefited from a drop in prices of the commodity. The rupee, which was emerging Asia's worst performing currency in 2018, has regained some of the lost appetite and appreciated by 1.3 percent so far this year. The Malaysian ringgit and Taiwan dollar strengthened 0.2 percent each. The Singapore dollar clawed back earlier losses to trade flat, after data showed the city-state posting a surprise jump in February exports. THE PHILIPPINE PESO The Philippine peso was the sole outlier on the day, weakening 0.1 percent to 52.59 against the dollar, after the country on Friday posted its largest current account deficit on record in 2018. The deficit was driven mainly by increases in imports. Investors will also be looking out for newly-appointed central bank chief Benjamin Diokno's first policy meeting on March 21, with expectations that the central bank will keep rates steady until inflation is firmly within its target. The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against the dollar at 0516 GMT. CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR Currency Latest bid Previous day Pct Move Japan yen 111.520 111.45 -0.06 Sing dlr 1.352 1.3523 +0.05 Taiwan dlr 30.837 30.888 +0.17 Korean won 1131.700 1137.3 +0.49 Baht 31.650 31.69 +0.13 Peso 52.660 52.59 -0.13 Rupiah 14235.000 14255 +0.14 Rupee 68.870 69.09 +0.32 Ringgit 4.080 4.089 +0.22 Yuan 6.713 6.7140 +0.02 Change so far in 2019 Currency Latest bid End 2018 Pct Move Japan yen 111.520 109.56 -1.76 Sing dlr 1.352 1.3627 +0.82 Taiwan dlr 30.837 30.733 -0.34 Korean won 1131.700 1115.70 -1.41 Baht 31.650 32.55 +2.84 Peso 52.660 52.47 -0.36 Rupiah 14235.000 14375 +0.98 Rupee 68.870 69.77 +1.31 Ringgit 4.080 4.1300 +1.23 Yuan 6.713 6.8730 +2.39 (Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam Holmes)

EM ASIA FX-Asian currencies eke out small gains; S. Korean won falls

15 Mar 2019

* S. Korean won hits 4-month low * Indian rupee set to gain for fifth straight week * Indonesia posts surprise trade surplus in Feb (Adds text, updates prices) By Shriya Ramakrishnan March 15 Most emerging Asian currencies made small gains on Friday as improved sentiment over reports of progress in U.S.-China trade talks was partially tempered by fears of a fresh flare up in tensions on the Korean peninsula, which knocked the won. The South Korean won weakened as much as 0.4 percent to 1139.20 against the dollar, its lowest level since Nov. 13, hit by reports that North Korea is considering suspending nuclear talks with the United States. The news comes after the failed summit last month between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam. "If North Korea does pull out of talks, that will bring geopolitical concerns in the Korean peninsula back on the table. We will see Korean assets starting to price in geopolitical risk elements," Khoon Goh, head of Asia research at ANZ Banking Group (Singapore) said. Much of the rest of emerging Asia drew some relief as Chinese Vice Premier Liu He said he spoke by telephone with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, with the two sides making further substantive progress on trade talks. The overall gains, however, were capped by uncertainty over when the two economic powers would reach an agreement. The Singapore dollar edged higher and was set to gain for the week, while the Philippine peso dipped 0.1 percent against the dollar. THE INDONESIAN RUPIAH The Indonesian rupiah weakened as much as 0.3 percent, before paring some of the losses. Data showed the country posted a surprise trade surplus in February, for the first time in five months, as imports unexpectedly fell sharply. Southeast Asia's largest economy has been struggling to reduce its trade deficit, which hit a record high of $8.5 billion last year. "The fact that Indonesia managed to turn the large trade deficit into a small surplus has seen the rupiah recover somewhat," Goh said. However, he noted that Indonesia is still running a current account deficit, and weak trade numbers from across Asia, were factors that would continue to weigh on the currency. THE INDIAN RUPEE The Indian rupee strengthened as much as 0.4 percent to 69.10 on the dollar, and is set to gain for a fifth consecutive week. Investors have regained some of their lost appetite for emerging Asia's worst performing currency in 2018, when it tumbled more than 8 percent. A Reuters poll showed investors are bullish on the rupee for the first time in nearly a year, as a recent surge in popularity of the country's ruling party is expected to bode well for its alliance in the upcoming national elections. "The rupee continues to remain on appreciating mode due to foreign institutional investors inflow in the debt and equity market," Rushabh Maru, a currency and commodity analyst at Anand Rathi Shares and Stock Brokers Ltd said. "Crude oil prices are stable and hence inflation is expected to remain benign in coming months." The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against the dollar at 0616 GMT. CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR Currency Latest bid Previous day Pct Move Japan yen 111.640 111.7 +0.05 Sing dlr 1.355 1.3556 +0.07 Taiwan dlr 30.890 30.901 +0.04 Korean won 1137.900 1134.8 -0.27 Baht 31.720 31.76 +0.13 Peso 52.730 52.68 -0.09 Rupiah 14285.000 14262 -0.16 Rupee 69.198 69.35 +0.22 Ringgit 4.088 4.089 +0.02 Yuan 6.719 6.7240 +0.07 Change so far in 2019 Currency Latest bid End 2018 Pct Move Japan yen 111.640 109.56 -1.86 Sing dlr 1.355 1.3627 +0.59 Taiwan dlr 30.890 30.733 -0.51 Korean won 1137.900 1115.70 -1.95 Baht 31.720 32.55 +2.62 Peso 52.730 52.47 -0.49 Rupiah 14285.000 14375 +0.63 Rupee 69.198 69.77 +0.83 Ringgit 4.088 4.1300 +1.03 Yuan 6.719 6.8730 +2.29 (Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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