Most Asian currencies rise as U.S. data weighs on dollar

* 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 (Reuters) - 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)



First Published: 2019-03-18 03:36:54
Updated 2019-03-18 07:55:15


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