Most Asian currencies shaky as growth concerns

Thursday, 27 December 2018 01:53 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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.

The likelihood of a prolonged partial US 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 US 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-US 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 sizeable losses into the year-end.

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

The Indian rupee advanced as much as 0.5% and was the best performer after a more than 6% 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%, 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 US Federal Reserve’s tightening path.