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Asia, Forex

Weaker as U.S. data lessens chance of aggressive Fed easing

* Rupiah eases, cenbank expected to cut rates on Thursday * Korean won slips ahead of BOK policy meeting * Rising crude weighs on rupee, rupiah (Adds text, updates prices) By Rashmi Ashok July 17 (Reuters) – Emerging Asian currencies weakened against a firmer dollar on Wednesday, as robust U.S. retail sales trimmed chances of aggressive policy easing by the Federal Reserve. U.S. retail sales rose more than expected in June, data showed on Tuesday, tempering expectations of a 50 basis point cut in July that markets had earlier expected. “The surprise retail sales indicator in the United States is putting a big question mark on the number of interest rate cuts the Fed can get away with,” Alfonso Esparza, senior market analyst at OANDA, said in a note. “A July rate cut of 25 basis points is fully priced in, but improving fundamentals could give some breathing room to the Fed despite the wishes of the White House,” he said. The Philippine peso was the biggest decliner, off 0.4% against the greenback. Rising crude prices stepped up pressure on the currencies of major net oil importers, with the Indian rupee and the Indonesian rupiah both weakening. The rupiah fell for a second session, ahead of a central bank meeting due on Thursday. Bank Indonesia (BI) Governor Perry Warjiyo has been hinting at a possible rate cut recently, saying “there is room to lower the rate” after a positive year for the rupiah. With Fed Chairman Jerome Powell all but cementing a rate cut in July and Indonesian President Joko Widodo stepping up pressure on the government to spur growth, a majority of analysts polled by Reuters expected a rate cut on Thursday. TRADE UNCERTAINTY HURTS WON The trade-sensitive Korean won slid 0.2%, after U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday the United States “still has a long way to go” to conclude a trade deal with China and threatened additional tariffs if needed. A possible rate cut by the Bank of Korea at its policy review on Thursday also weighed on the currency, which is the region’s worst performer this year with a decline of 5.5%. “The trade spat with Japan exacerbating sluggish trade conditions, diminishing fiscal space and deteriorating domestic demand may tip the BOK into a rate cut sooner rather than later; and perhaps as soon as this week,” analysts at Mizuho Bank said in a note. South Korea’s exports have been hit by the Sino-U.S. trade war and investors are also bracing for the impact of Japan’s export curbs to Korea. Furthermore, domestic demand has moderated, adding to the central bank’s worries. The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against the dollar at 0459 GMT. CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR Currency Latest bid Previous day Pct Move Japan yen 108.190 108.22 +0.03 Sing dlr 1.360 1.3582 -0.15 Taiwan dlr 31.060 31.042 -0.06 Korean won 1180.000 1177.6 -0.20 Baht 30.900 30.89 -0.03 Peso 51.080 50.89 -0.37 Rupiah 13960.000 13930 -0.21 Rupee 68.805 68.71 -0.14 Ringgit 4.114 4.11 -0.10 Yuan 6.883 6.8760 -0.10 Change so far in 2019 Currency Latest bid End 2018 Pct Move Japan yen 108.190 109.56 +1.27 Sing dlr 1.360 1.3627 +0.18 Taiwan dlr 31.060 30.733 -1.05 Korean won 1180.000 1115.70 -5.45 Baht 30.900 32.55 +5.34 Peso 51.080 52.47 +2.72 Rupiah 13960.000 14375 +2.97 Rupee 68.805 69.77 +1.40 Ringgit 4.114 4.1300 +0.39 Yuan 6.883 6.8730 -0.14 (Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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