1. Manchester blast subdues trade; Fed minutes in focus

Manchester blast subdues trade; Fed minutes in focus

Asian currencies were subdued on Tuesday, with a suicide attack in Manchester dampening a mild resurgence in risk appetite, just as investors had begun looking past the political crisis still simmering in Washington.

By: | Published: May 23, 2017 1:45 PM
The dollar, which slipped to more than 6-month lows in the previous session, remained weak. “Market reaction has been fairly muted in Asia in response to the Manchester blast.

Asian currencies were subdued on Tuesday, with a suicide attack in Manchester dampening a mild resurgence in risk appetite, just as investors had begun looking past the political crisis still simmering in Washington. Meanwhile, the euro floated near a six-month high after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the currency was too week, whereas the pound sagged on news of a blast at a concert in Britain’s Manchester which killed 19.

The dollar, which slipped to more than 6-month lows in the previous session, remained weak. “Market reaction has been fairly muted in Asia in response to the Manchester blast. The yen did strengthen slightly initially, but this has partly unwound,” said Khoon Goh, head of Asia research at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group in Singapore.

The mild hit to the risk-on sentiment manifested in a sell-off in the Korean won and the Taiwan dollar , the biggest gainers in the previous session. The won was 0.3 percent lower, while the Taiwan dollar fell 0.2 percent. Traders say investors will now shift their focus to the FOMC minutes due on Wednesday, for any hints of the Fed’s rate cycle plans for the year.

“The market is expecting the Fed to stay on course for a rise in June. But that’s priced in about 70 percent, so, there’s a bit of an upside there,” said Stephen Innes, a senior trader for FX broker OANDA. “But the thought here is that if the Fed starts to ratchet it up towards the end of the year, then there’s some appeal for the dollar to go higher. This may be tempering expectations across global markets.” Dallas Federal Reserve President Robert Kaplan on Monday repeated his view that three interest rate increases in 2017 was “appropriate” in an article he wrote.

The Malaysian ringgit, however, was higher for a third straight session, up nearly 0.2 percent. Malaysia’s central bank on Monday said the country’s gross international reserves stood at $97.3 billion as of May 15, which it said were sufficient to finance 7.8 months of retained imports and 1.1 times the short-term external debt.

Analysts expect the ringgit to continue doing well going forward on better expectations for oil prices. An OPEC meeting on Thursday might see the oil cartel and other producers agree on extending supply cuts by a further nine months until March.

Conversely, the Singapore dollar fell 0.14 percent against the U.S. dollar as inflation was not seen likely to change the central bank’s neutral policy stance. Singapore’s headline consumer price index in April rose a less-than-expected 0.4 percent from a year earlier, the slowest rise since December last year, while core inflation accelerated a stronger-than-expected 1.7 percent in April.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore held policy steady in April, saying a “neutral” stance would be needed for an extended period as it looked to support an economy that contracted in the first quarter amid lingering risks to the global outlook.

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