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Asia, Forex

Most Asian currencies tread water before U.S. data as Fed clues eyed

* Trader positioning gingerly ahead of U.S. data – analyst * Philippine peso hits highest since Jan 2018 * Indian rupee weakens the most (Adds text, updates prices) By Aditya Soni July 16 (Reuters) – Emerging Asian currencies largely held to the sidelines on Tuesday as investors were reluctant to make any big bets ahead of U.S. retail sales and a host of speeches from Federal Reserve officials later in the global day. Market focus is firmly on a widely-expected U.S. Federal Reserve rate cut later this month, with traders keenly assessing data from the world’s largest economy to gauge the extent to which the Fed might be willing to ease monetary policy. “A very cautious start for risk assets this morning with trader positioning gingerly knowing that the rest of the week is potholed by Fed speakers and critical US data releases,” Stephen Innes, managing partner at Vanguard Markets Pte Ltd said in a note. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and Federal Reserve Governor Michelle Bowman will be among those making speeches later in the day. U.S. industrial production data is also due later, while the Fed will release its key Beige Book on U.S. economic conditions on Wednesday, which investors will study for insight on how trade tensions are affecting the business outlook. The Philippine peso firmed 0.1% to a near 1-1/2-year high, while South Korean won gained slightly. The Chinese yuan was 0.1% higher. Most Asian currencies had advanced in the previous session after monthly Chinese data showed signs that Beijing’s stepped-up stimulus efforts might be helping to stabilize the world’s second largest economy. The Indian rupee slipped 0.1% and was the top loser in the region. Data on Monday showed that India’s imports declined to their lowest level in four months in June, down 9% from a year ago, indicating weakening consumption in Asia’s third largest economy. The dismal figures added to worries that India’s economy may have slowed further in April-June after growth slipped to a five-year low in the first quarter. Trading in Thailand was closed on account of a regional holiday. The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against the dollar at 0350 GMT. CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR Currency Latest bid Previous day Pct Move Japan yen 107.970 107.9 -0.06 Sing dlr 1.356 1.3559 +0.00 Taiwan dlr 31.023 31.052 +0.09 Korean won 1178.100 1179.3 +0.10 Peso 50.900 50.95 +0.10 Rupiah 13920.000 13915 -0.04 Rupee 68.575 68.54 -0.06 Ringgit 4.107 4.107 +0.00 Yuan 6.874 6.8775 +0.06 Change so far in 2019 Currency Latest bid End 2018 Pct Move Japan yen 107.970 109.56 +1.47 Sing dlr 1.356 1.3627 +0.50 Taiwan dlr 31.023 30.733 -0.93 Korean won 1178.100 1115.70 -5.30 Baht 30.890 32.55 +5.37 Peso 50.900 52.47 +3.08 Rupiah 13920.000 14375 +3.27 Rupee 68.575 69.77 +1.74 Ringgit 4.107 4.1300 +0.56 Yuan 6.874 6.8730 -0.01 (Reporting by Aditya Soni in Bengaluru Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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