1. Most Asian currencies move marginally; rupiah slides to four-month low

Most Asian currencies move marginally; rupiah slides to four-month low

Most emerging Asian currencies trod water on Friday, as wariness about political turmoil in Washington continued to dent risk appetites. Overall, regional currencies were mixed, though most had small slips.

By: | Published: May 19, 2017 1:20 PM

Most emerging Asian currencies trod water on Friday, as wariness about political turmoil in Washington continued to dent risk appetites. Overall, regional currencies were mixed, though most had small slips. The biggest loser was the Indonesian rupiah, which fell as much of 0.5 percent to touch its lowest since Jan. 4.

The rupiah, which weakened on Wednesday and Thursday, It dropped on demand for dollars ahead of the start of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and holidays celebrating its completion. Ramadan starts in late May. “A lot of people will be going on holiday during the Lebaran (Idul Fitri) festivities which is in the next couple of months.

They will need to accumulate U.S. dollars,” said Harry Su, head of research at Jakarta-based Bahana Securities. Indonesia’s central bank on Thursday kept its benchmark where it has been since October, wary of risks including a “big chance” U.S. interest rates will rise in June.

OTHER ASIAN CURRENCIES

For emerging Asian currencies in general, a lingering worry is that political turmoil in Washington will delay efforts by President Donald Trump to implement economic stimulus plans. Trump, striking a defiant tone on Thursday, denied asking former FBI Director James Comey to drop a probe into his former national security adviser and decried a “witch hunt” against him.

Risk sentiment was also partially affected by Brazil, where financial markets tumbled due to a political crisis involving President Michel Temer and the country’s biggest-ever graft probe. Temer defiantly said he would not resign after the Supreme Court authorized an investigation into allegations he condoned bribes to a potential witness, “While the Brazil issue stole markets’ attention, the matter is likely domestic and should impose little impact upon this part of the world,” said Jingyi Pan, market strategist at IG in Singapore.

The Korean won edged 0.1 percent lower and is on track for its third-straight day of losses against the dollar. A sharp acceleration in U.S. factory activity gave the dollar a lift on international exchanges, putting extra pressure on the won.

The Chinese yuan inched 0.1 percent lower after data showed that foreign direct investment into China fell 0.1 percent to 286.41 billion yuan ($41.56 billion) in the first four months of 2017 from the same period a year earlier.

The Indian rupee eked out marginal gains after tumbling more than 1 percent in its steepest fall since Aug. 2015. The currency is on track for its biggest weekly fall since Nov. 2016.

ASIAN CURRENCY POSITIONING

Investors raised their long positions in some Asian currencies compared with two weeks ago, a Reuters poll showed on Thursday, after the dollar was bruised by Washington events and softer-than-expected economic data.

Long positions in the Chinese yuan rose marginally from two weeks ago and reached the largest since July 2015, while Taiwan dollar long positions increased to the biggest since February 2011. Investors were estimated to have long positions in all nine Asian currencies covered by the Reuters poll, which surveyed 15 analysts and traders.

Singapore dollar long positions nearly doubled from two weeks ago to the largest since March 2016, while bets on the Philippine peso turned slightly bullish, the first bullish peso positioning since September 2016.

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