Most Asian currencies slipped on Tuesday, as the dollar saw support after an influential Federal Reserve official said US inflation was likely to rise alongside wages, supporting expectations for the Fed to keep raising interest rates. The comments by New York Fed President William Dudley, a close ally of Fed Chair Janet Yellen, were among the first after the US central bank raised rates last week in the face of a series of soft inflation readings. “This is actually a pretty good place to be” with unemployment at 4.3 percent and inflation at about 1.5 percent, Dudley told the North Country Chamber of Commerce in Plattsburg, New York.
Asked about a so-called flattening of yields in the bond market, which suggest investors are sceptical that this Fed policy tightening cycle will last much longer, Dudley said pausing policy now could raise the risk of inflation surging and would hurt the economy.
Dudley’s comments have the “potential to convince markets that the U.S. economy has been and is continuing to do fine without Trump’s stimulus plans,” DBS said in a note. The dollar rose to 111.770 yen at one point, reaching its strongest level since May 26. Most Asian currencies depreciated against the dollar, with the Indian rupee, Malaysian ringgit and the Chinese yuan edging 0.1 percent lower.
The Taiwanese dollar fell marginally, remaining on track to reverse yesterday’s gains. Taiwan’s central bank is expected to leave its policy rate unchanged for the fourth straight quarter at a meeting on Thursday, as exports continue to gather momentum and inflation remains mild. “Taiwan dollar swap rates are likely to stay around current levels. A revisit of the lows seen in 2016 appears unlikely unless the central bank allows domestic liquidity to surge again,” DBS added.
The Indonesian rupiah fell marginally to 13,292 against the dollar. Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said on Monday that she expects the country’s 2017 budget deficit might reach 2.6 percent of gross domestic product versus the 2.41 percent seen in the current plan.
The South Korean won fell as much as 0.5 percent to touch an eight-week low on Tuesday, leading the declines among emerging Asian currencies. South Korea on Monday announced tighter mortgage rules and curbs on speculative resales of homes in Seoul and parts of Busan – the toughest rules in almost three years as policymakers sought to stabilise hot housing markets amid soaring household debt. Despite today’s declines, the won has been one of the best performing currencies in Asia this year, strengthening more than six percent against the dollar. The non-deliverable outright market expects the currency to appreciate to 1128.3 against the dollar in a year.
The Philippine peso weakened as much as 0.4 percent on Tuesday to a seven-week low. The Philippine central bank is widely expected to leave interest rates steady on Thursday, a Reuters poll showed, but pressures on inflation are likely to keep an interest rate increase on the cards this year. The central bank has kept policy settings unchanged since a 25 basis point hike in interest rates in September 2014. Additionally, the Philippines posted a balance of payments deficit of $59 million in May compared with a surplus of $917 million in April, data released by the Philippine central bank showed. The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against the dollar at 0503 GMT.